Mijailovic changes lawyer for appeal

'Celebrity lawyer' Peter Althin lost not one but two headline clients this week. Both Mijailo Mijailovic, Anna Lindh’s convicted murderer and Tony Olsson, who in the summer temporarily escaped his life sentence for murder, have sought new counsel.

According to Svenska Dagbladet Peter Althin admitted he was surprised to hear the news of Mijailovic’s request, which was approved by the Swedish Supreme Court on Wednesday. Mijailovic claimed Althin didn’t listen and didn’t visit often enough.

Althin, never shy of media coverage, used a full-length interview in Thursday’s Metro to make his defence.

“You have a job to assist a client and you do your best,” he said. “Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. If you take it personally you’re in the wrong job.”

Althin, who is also a Chiristian Democrat member of parliament, told Metro that he thought he and Mijailovic had a good relationship and denied that he did not spend enough time on the case.

“I haven’t heard anyone in this case say that I wasn’t keeping up – I tihnk I can manage both my job as a lawyer and my tasks as a member of parliament,” he said.

Mikael Nilsson, from the Malmö law firm ‘Three Lawyers’, will replace Althin as Mijailovic’s attorney. Nilsson told TT that he would visit Miljailo Mijailovic, who is in custody at Sundsvall psychiatric clinic, “as quickly as possible to begin reviewing the case.”

“I never turn down a case if I have the opportunity to take it,” he told Aftonbladet. “And naturally this is a particularly exciting case.”

Mijailovic and Nilsson will appear before the Swedish Supreme Court on 10 November, 2004.

Nor will Peter Althin be defending Tony Olsson, one of the four escapees from Hall this summer. Althin and two other lawyers from Althin’s law firm have been given warnings for “breaching ethical codes of practice”, according to SvD.

Tony Olsson was one of four who escaped from Hall Prison on the night of 27 July. The notorious manhunt for the four fugitives successfully concluded several days later with all four in custody. Olsson, who was defended by Althin when he was tried for the brutal slaying of two police officers in Malexander in 1999, was the last caught.

Three of the four escapees were represented by Althin’s law firm, apparently “creating a conflict of interest”. According to Anne Ramberg, General Secretary of Sweden’s Lawyers Association, regulations to prevent such a conflict exist, “to protect the client and to ensure the representing lawyer’s loyalty is exclusively with the client.”

In his interview with Metro, Althin responded by pointing out that he’s been in the business for 30 years and has never before had any complaints, because he “follows the framework that exists.”

“I and my colleagues judged that there was no conflict situation according to our interpretation of the Lawyers Association guidelines,” he said. “I accept the association’s rules but they should be clearer so as not to be interpreted in different ways.”

Tony Olsson is now represented by Lars Arrhenius in the matter of the escape from Hall Prison.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Metro

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius