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Outspoken prosecutor taken off rape cases

Published: 20 Aug 2009 08:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Aug 2009 08:11 GMT+02:00

Swedish district prosecutor Rolf Hillegren, who was reported to the justice ombudsman for referring to some cases of rape as mere regulatory offences, will no longer work on sex crime cases, it has been announced.

Hillegren courted controversy in an interview with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper last weekend discussing a landmark ruling by the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen).

"Take a man and a woman who know each other and the woman says she doesn't feel like it today, but the man just goes ahead anyway. Sure, it is not very nice, but maybe not worth two years in prison. It is more like a regulatory offence," he said.

Hillegren was met with a media storm and was widely criticized for his comments which were seen as undermining patient work to encourage victims of rape to come forward.

He will now no longer work on any more sex crime cases in the period before he retires next year, Per Nichols, the head of the Stockholm City district prosecutor's office, announced after a meeting with Hillegren on Wednesday.

"I have had an extended discussion with Hillegren and we are in agreement that, over the months remaining before he retires, he will be given specific tasks at the prosecutors office. It means that he will not oversee any sex crime cases," Per Nichols said according to an SvD report.

Rolf Hillegren maintained in a debate article in SvD on Monday that he is convinced that many of his colleagues share his view.

"I venture to claim that my view on the crime of rape is not significantly different from that of my colleagues. What's different is the interest in the debate, which I find regrettable but understand," he wrote.

Per Nichols on Wednesday took the opportunity to underline his view that this was not the case.

"I do not share this understanding and I think that it is in itself wrong. Violence against women is an area which is prioritized in the work of the prosecutor's office and we are investing in the education of our prosecutors."

"This is a view which is not shared by the city office nor any other prosecutors' office," Nichols argued.

In a response to widespread public criticism, Hillegren had a second article published in SvD on Wednesday in which he referred to a man's decision to proceed with sex despite his partner's unwillingness as a breach of etiquette.

"I share the commonly held view that 'no means no'. I am however also of the opinion that one ought not to legislate on consent, as the issue is already central to all rape cases. To not have sex against someone's will is an excellent rule of social interaction, but it is more applicable to books on etiquette than it is to law books."

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:45 August 20, 2009 by byke
The problem with certain subjects is there is no leeway for open discussion without being tarred as the devil.

And by taking such a closed door attitude, doesn't help generate freedoms or reinforce democratic values.

I want to end this comment by saying:

IN NO WAY DO I SUPPORT OR OBJECT TO THE SUBJECT OF RAPE.

- but I am questioning the rights to question any subject fairly.
10:00 August 20, 2009 by Puffin
Well I think that he rather stiched himself up - but writing a debate article in SvD yesterday and said that consent to sexual intercourse was not a matter for the court - but was a question of "ettiquette"

"Not having sexual intercourse against another's will is an excellent social rule - however one that is more suited to ettiquette books than law books"

He also used the term "ordningförseelse" for date rape offences which is not quite the the same thing as a misdemeanour as the Local is reporting - as a misdemeanour is usually a crime - albeit a minor crime whereas an ordningsförseelse relates to very minor/petty rule breeches - which would not require any jail/probabtion at all

Examples of "ordningsförseelser" are:

- staying too long at a parking meter

- turning in your building permit application late

- breaking school rules
11:07 August 20, 2009 by paulomahony
Dear Puffin,

Thank you for your feedback. We have reviewed the translation and concluded that 'regulatory offence' is a more accurate translation.

Paul O'Mahony, Editor
13:19 August 20, 2009 by here for the summer
byke

I agree in principle about the difficulty of discussing some subjects. Many examples. But here you have a person entrusted to enforce or at least administer the enforcement of the law who has expressed a view contrary to the laws of Sweden and most western countries. Perhaps indicating his unwillingness to enforce those laws chosen by the people or their elected. On top of it he said that he thinks many of his fellow prosecutors hold the same opinion.

If this debate or opinion was be the people making or changing the law or even about who to elect it would be another thing all together.
13:34 August 20, 2009 by eZee.se
This sucks, I wrote a comment and i get this message:

Comment is too long. It must be less than 1,000 characters. Your comment is 1011 characters.

Then i press the back button and the comment box is empty.

Seriously, this is one of the worst comment systems on the internet, and the one with one of the craziest software word censor settings as well.
14:32 August 20, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
I remind everyone that the rape conviction laws in Sweden make it VERY tough to PROVE rape! It sounds like if the ONLY evidence is a "SHE said / He said" then there will be no conviction. The really sad part about this is that this means that the raped person NEEDS to fight back so there is EVIDENCE of force, like being murdered because you fought back.

If a person is raped by their mate, that person will probably NOT fight back and so there will be no evidence for conviction! All the person can do is breakup the relationship.

I am curious as to what this prosecutor was really trying to say and that IF he was accurately quoted - what his background is.

Some religions, most notably "the religion of piece" even go so far as to say that if the wife is not putting out, it is OK to PHYSICALLY punish her until he gets his way! Well at least there may be some bruising to show police. I've seen some Christian groups just deny spousal rape is possible!!
20:12 August 20, 2009 by insect
What ever happened to lie detector tests? I know they are not 100% accurate but it is the next best thing to prove a case of he said she said
23:39 August 20, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
Lie detector tests are NOT EVEN CLOSE to having ANY validity!! It is a VERY bad and DANGEROUS misconception brought about by too much TV.

IF, and I repeat IF you are guilty of a crime, then YES you should take a lie detector test because you have a 50/50 chance of passing.

IF you are NOT guilty of a crime, stay away from it!!!!! 50/50 chance you fail and guess what? The police are convinced they have the guilty party and stop looking for the real criminal. All you can say is hello to Bubba, your new roommate!

They are getting closer to brain scans for lie detecting BUT it is still about 5 years out. - (and that is a whole new can of worms ;-)
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