The gaffe occurred during a closed parliamentary committee meeting. Couchepin said he was discussing the need for a strong law on research into human genetics and turned to a neighbor for help with the name of Dr. Josef Mengele, notorious for his research on Nazi concentration camp inmates.
This was Couchepin's description of the exchange: "What was the name of the monster of Auschwitz? Morgele?" His neighbor replied: "No, Mengele."
"I don't think I smiled," he said. "I saw someone smile and I said it was not a laughing matter. It's serious."
Morgeli, who was not at the meeting, said he doesn't accept Couchepin's version of events.