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Reporter, September 14, 2022 9pm-9.40pm

Mein Brieffreund in der Todeszelle / My penpal on death row

SRF 1 14.09.2022 21:00-21:40Uhr · Schweiz 2022 · Info / Dok

Click the gearwheel, Subtitles -> English  /  Clicke das Zahnrad, Untertitel -> Deutsch 

Will man jemanden in sein Leben lassen, der in den USA zum Tode verurteilt wurde? Kann man mit einem Mörder befreundet sein? Vier Menschen erzählen, wieso sie ihre Brieffreundschaft mit jemandem in der Todeszelle noch nie bereut haben.

“Mein Name ist William Kopsho. Ich bin seit 21 Jahren im Gefängnis. Ich wurde zum Tod verurteilt, weil ich jemandem das Leben genommen habe”, sagt ein sympathisch wirkender Mann Mitte 60. Er hat in einem Streit seine Frau erschossen. Nun wartet er in einem Gefängnis im Bundesstaat Florida auf seine Hinrichtung. Einer seiner engsten Freunde wohnt im Kanton Bern. Patrik Gerber ist Mitte 20 und studiert Medizin. Kennengelernt haben sich die beiden über einen Verein namens “Lifespark”, der seit fast 30 Jahren Brieffreundschaften mit Menschen in der Todeszelle vermittelt. “Wenn Patrik Urlaub macht oder mit Freunden essen geht, schickt er mir Fotos”, erzählt William Kopsho der Sendung “Reporter”. “Das gibt mir das Gefühl, dabei zu sein. Und das ist wunderbar. Durch ihn fühle ich mich zwischendurch wie ein freier Mann. Zumindest in meinem Geist.” Patrik Gerber auf der anderen Seite ist durch die Freundschaft mit Kopsho klar geworden, was für ein Privileg es ist, frei zu sein: “Ich schätze und geniesse mein Leben jetzt viel mehr.” Die Tatsache, dass er es mit jemandem zu tun hat, der einen Menschen getötet hat, tut der Nähe keinen Abbruch. Das Delikt sei schnell in den Hintergrund getreten. Aus einem fremden Mörder wurde ein enger Freund. Reporter Simon Christen hat drei Frauen und einen Mann porträtiert, die in der Schweiz leben und einen Brieffreund haben, der in der Todeszelle sitzt. Was hat sie dazu motiviert, einen solchen Menschen in ihr Leben zu lassen? Was gibt ihnen dieser Kontakt? Und wie gehen sie damit um, dass es eine Freundschaft auf Zeit ist? Irgendwann wird der Tag der Exekution kommen. Dann dürfen die Gefangenen Menschen, die ihnen wichtig sind, einladen, dabei zu sein. Auch ihre Brieffreundinnen und Brieffreunde aus der Schweiz.

Ein Film mit deutschen und englischen Untertiteln von
Simon Christen

Would you want to let someone into your life who has been sentenced to death in the USA? Can you be friends with a murderer? Four people talk about why they have never regretted their pen-pal relationship with someone on death row.

“My name is William Kopsho. I have been in prison for 21 years. I was sentenced to death for taking someone’s life,” says a pleasant-looking man in his mid-60s. He shot his wife in an argument. Now he is awaiting execution in a Florida state prison. One of his closest friends lives in the canton of Bern. Patrik Gerber is in his mid-20s and is studying medicine. The two got to know each other through an association called “lifespark,” which has been arranging penpalships with people on death row for almost 30 years. “When Patrik goes on vacation or out to dinner with friends, he sends me photos,” William Kopsho tells the program “Reporter.” “It makes me feel like I’m there. And that’s wonderful. He makes me feel like a free man at times. At least in my mind.” Patrik Gerber, on the other hand, has realized through his friendship with Kopsho what a privilege it is to be free: “I appreciate and enjoy my life much more now.” The fact that he is dealing with someone who has killed a human being does not detract from the closeness. The crime quickly faded into the background, he says. A stranger who was a murderer became a close friend. In this documentary, reporter Simon Christen portrays three women and one man who live in Switzerland and have a pen pal on death row. What motivated them to let someone like that into their lives? What do they get out of the relationship? And how do they deal with the fact that it is a friendship for a limited time? At some point, the day of execution will come. Then the prisoners are allowed to invite people who are important to them to be there. That includes their penpals from Switzerland.

A film with English and German subtitles by
Simon Christen

Cities for life – cities against the death penalty
annual event in Lausanne: November 25, 2022

Reprise: ‘Cities for life – cities against the death penalty’ annual event in Lausanne: November 27, 2021 – to be repeated on November 25, 2022!

 

On November 27, 2021, in Lausanne, lifespark joined in with ACAT, The Community of Sant Egidio and Amnesty Internationl – Switzerland, to mark the “Cities for life; cities against the death penalty” annual event.

This year’s project was the reading of some of our penfriends’ texts by the reader and artist Rita Gay, supported by an original musical creation by Joséphine Maillefer, musician and lifespark member.

The texts came from a call we made in June 2020 with the idea to select some of them to be read in November 2020. However, because of the pandemic situation, the organizers decided to postpone the event to November 2021. Fortunately, it did take place then.

 

And it will be repeated on November 25 of this year, 2022!

The following link displays the selected original texts. Take a look… some of them are just quite beautiful!

Link to the PDF

Sterbebegleitung im Todestrakt mit Ursula Corbin

SRF2 interview in German on January 26, 2022

with Ursula Corbin, lifespark founder.

Click here to listen to the programme in German.

Friendships in US death cells

NZZ interview with Ursula Corbin, lifespark founder on August 30, 2022.

Click here to read the NZZ article in German (original).

Click here to read the NZZ article in English (translation).

 

Tele 1 Fokus interview with our member Beatrice

Watch the Tele 1 Fokus interview with our member Beatrice, recorded on December 20 2021. In the interview, Beatrice talks about her long friendship with her penfriend Oscar.

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