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Witness intimidation on the rise at Swedish trials

Published: 29 Jan 2012 16:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Jan 2012 16:45 GMT+01:00

Threats and attempts to scare off both crime victims as well as witnesses of said crimes have become more common in Sweden, and most victims are young.

From 1999 to 2006, reports of threats in connection with court cases increased by 70 percent.

Since then, the rising trend has continued.

Last year 5,835 police reports were filed, up almost nine percent from 2010's figure. Roughly half of those reports involve youths between 15 and 25 years old, according to a study conducted by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet - Brå).

"It's a threat against the rule of law," chief prosecutor Jörgen Lindberg of the Swedish Prosecution Authority's development centre in Malmö told news agency TT, commenting on the growing difficulties in convincing people to reveal what they've seen and heard.

According to Brå researcher Johanna Skinnari, attempts to influence witnesses and victims range from violence and threats to more subtle measures, such as wearing a motorcycle gang's vest in the courtroom, or staring aggressively at the witness.

Apart from the clear connection to criminal youths, threats and violence were common in trials of organized crime and relationship violence.

Skinnari warns that general feeling of discomfort in court cases can lead to self-censorship, stopping potential witnesses from participating.

Nearly all threats against witnesses turn out to be empty, and it is exceptionally rare for witnesses to get hurt.

"It's important that we shatter this myth that it's dangerous to testify. Some are just scared because they don't feel at home in the trial process, and are unfamiliar with the language and the environment, said Skinnari to TT.

TT/The Local/cg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:10 January 29, 2012 by jostein
Why are always multiculturalists silent when it comes to the actual effect of their ideology? They only speak of what should happen, never about what actually do happen?
06:47 January 30, 2012 by Hunner1210
No Swede/European should EVER be afraid. Of intimidation, of threatening, of coercion-nothing. If you cannot be free to say/do/express what is true and what you feel then what life do you even have? You ARE your ideas/thoughts/expressions, risking your life for them makes sense when you realize that they are the very things that MAKE your life.
07:08 January 30, 2012 by TheWatchman
@Hunner1210

They SHOULDN'T but YOU will be when YOU are the minority in your land.
07:15 January 30, 2012 by Hunner1210
@TheWatchman To H*ll I would! YOU (each person/European) must be the change you want to see in the world- I MUST act in this way (without fear, even if I'm risking my life ) in hopes that if ALL did that, intimidation would never/ could never stand a chance!
07:37 January 30, 2012 by TheWatchman
@Hunner1210

You are a brave soul, but it will be difficult when your own people are the target of violence for being white. That is the bravery that is required to say 'no' to allowing all of these people in, which are quite literally changing the future of your country. Without that, Sweden and the rest of Europe is doomed.
12:24 January 30, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Watchman

Nothing in the article implies that this is a consequence of multi culturalism.

The increase in the number of threats could easily be a simple consequence of an increasingly spineless justice system in Sweden that does not adequately punish violent crime or threats of violent crime, especially for so-called 'young offenders' in Sweden, for both native Swedes and new Swedes.

An earlier article indicated that you could get a few months in jail for a credible death threat, even as an adult. So it is clearly worth the gamble to issue a death threat to a witness if your fellow gang member is facing a few years in prison for mass murder for example, so that the gang is short of a few months of manpower instead of a few years.
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