• Sweden edition
 

Mijailovic "could walk free"

Published: 11 Nov 2004 14:42 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Nov 2004 14:42 GMT+01:00

That's the painful logic that could see the man who killed Anna Lindh, Mijailo Mijailovic, escape punishment.

The case, which is being heard in the Supreme Court this week, has raised serious questions about Sweden's psychiatric care system. Prosecutors are anxious to ensure that it doesn't make a mockery of the criminal justice system too. They want the judges to overturn the Appeal Court's decision to sentence Mijailovic to psychiatric care, and to return to the District Court's sentence of life imprisonment.

But Mijailovic wants to be freed from responsibility of the murder altogether. If the court finds that he had intended to kill Anna Lindh, his lawyer wants him sentenced for the lesser crime of manslaughter.

The third and final trial began on Wednesday but the court learned little from Mijailovic himself. He refused to speak for the entire day and, according to Expressen, "did not look up once, instead staring down at the desk in front of him".

"I understand that you feel bad," said the lawyer representing Anna Lindh's family, Kerstin Wennersten. "My clients also feel bad. They want to know why. Can you not try to tell us?"

Mijailovic just shook his head.

After the day's proceedings Mijailovic's new lawyer, Mikael Nilsson, told the press that this wasn't a tactic.

"He's not able to answer any questions," he said. "Mentally he feels unwell."

In court Nilsson had focused on his argument that Mijailovic had no prior intention of killing Anna Lindh. He said that the attack was the result of a psychiatric impulse.

"Is it rational to throw the knife in the escalator, go to a hairdresser nearby, take a taxi home or be in a place with security cameras?" asked Nilsson.

"He saw Anna Lindh for the first time from the bottom of the escalator, 27 metres away. He felt extremely unwell, felt he was being followed and heard voices."

Nilsson also said that Mijailovic had not specifically targeted Anna Lindh.

"It could have been anyone," said Nilsson.

But the fact it, it wasn't anyone - it was one of Sweden's most popular politicians, a Foreign Minister earmarked as a future Prime Minister. Per Ole Träskman, a professor of penal law, told Svenska Dagbladet that even if the law's logic requires that Mijailovic is released, "the reality could be a prison sentence if public opinion demands it".

"Not even a court can be entirely uninfluenced by the reaction a judgement may cause," he said.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, Stockholm City

What is wrong with Sweden's mental health system? In an in-depth analysis, Lysanne Sizoo points out where the system is breaking down - and offers a creative solution.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

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