Top lawyer accused of laundering SEK 1.5m

One of Sweden's best-known criminal defence lawyers was charged on Wednesday with handling stolen goods. Thomas Martinson stands accused of laundering 1.5 million crowns stolen in a raid on a security van in 1995.

Tommy Zethraeus – currently serving a life sentence for the so-called Stureplan murder in December 1994 – and his former girlfriend have also been charged. Zethraeus was defended by Martinson at his trial in 1995. All three deny the allegations.

Around 30 million crowns was stolen from the van in Arninge, in Täby, in July 1995, making it one of Sweden’s biggest-ever heists. While the crime has still not been solved, chief prosecutor Stefan Bergman believes that Zethraeus – who was in jail at the time – received 1.5 million crowns of the proceeds.

According to Bergman, Martinson took 400,000 crowns for helping his client to launder the money.

The basis for the prosecutions is a series of telephone calls made from prison by Tommy Zethraeus which were monitored by the police. Thursday’s Expressen published extracts from three conversations between Zethraeus and other “known criminals”, in which he appeared to be discussing various ways of getting the money back from Martinson.

“I say to [an associate of Zethraeus] straight, you go and have a chat with him and then we’ll send a bloke round to put a bullet in his leg so he understands this is serious. Either he’ll leave town and won’t pay his debt and close down his bloody law firm – or he’ll pay his debt.”

Another extract appeared to be rather more specific:

“Then my woman came and said they’ve taken four hundred thousand for laundering the money. I said, what? Four hundred thousand for laundering the money? It’s already been laundered, I said. Yeah, but you need to talk to Thomas, [she said] I don’t know. So I ring up Thomas and then he comes to Norrköping prison. And I say, are you mad? How the hell can you take four hundred thousand for laundering the cash?”

The prosecutor told Stockholm City that as well as suspecting Martinson of handling stolen goods, he believes he has seriously abused his position as a lawyer.

“As a public defender he has been entrusted with private visits and telephone contact with Zethraeus,” said Stefan Bergman.

Wednesday’s Dagens Nyheter suggested that the telephone evidence may not even be admissible. Martinson’s own defence lawyer, Johan Eriksson, pointed out that since Zethraeus was being monitored for another reason, it is so-called ‘surplus information’ and it is doubtful whether it could be used as the cornerstone of an action.

Eriksson strenuously denied the allegations on behalf of his client.

“The evidence is so feeble that it can’t add up to a conviction,” he said. “This action shouldn’t even have been brought.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, Stockholm City