SVT report prompts appeals in incest cases

Ten men convicted of incest since 1991 have been given leave to appeal by the Supreme Court. The decision follows sensational revelations made by SVT's investigative programme 'Uppdrag granskning' about methods used by a therapist at a children's home in Småland. The first appeal, the case of 'Mats', has started in Malmö.

SVT reporter, Hannes Råström, interviewed six residents of Ekbacken children’s home. All spoke of an obsessed therapist who would do anything to get children to say they had been abused. ‘Sara’ told Råström:

“He tried to squeeze out things that he thought should have happened.”

‘Mysan’ said:

“If I didn’t say anything, the director came and poured a jug of freezing cold water over me.”

‘Mysan’ claimed that on several occasions she was forced to stand for hours at a time in a room. The therapist at the centre of the allegations is not registered with the National Board of Health and Welfare.

Home director, Helmut Wöllecke, refused to take part in the programme, but stood by the methods used in an interview in Expressen:

“The youngsters were never forced to tell anything. Six of them are obviously dissatisfied with us. That’s something we must accept. But I want to know more about their reasons.”

‘Linda’, now 18, is still a resident of Ekbacken. Her testimony was the only evidence presented when her father ‘Mats’ and a friend were convicted in 2002 of raping her over a seven year period. She was considered to be highly credible at the original trial and at an appeal hearing.

Now, a second appeal is under way in which she, effectively, is in the dock. This follows information uncovered by Råström about ‘Linda’s’ police interviews. He discovered that she told police that her mother had participated in the ritual murder of a baby girl. She also claimed her parents were involved in satanic orgies and that she’d been forced to work in a Stockholm sex club as a nine year old.

After a two year investigation, the police have yet to discover any evidence of the murder. ‘Linda’, who declined to participate in Råström’s programme, told DN: ‘I don’t want to go into that, but it’s true. It actually happened… It’s right to question my accusations. That’s been done in two trials and the defence lawyers weren’t exactly easy going. Both courts concluded that Dad was guilty.”

The trial got off to a stormy start, when the prosecution successfully moved for proceedings to be held behind closed doors. Defence lawyer, Thomas Olsson, argued that only ‘Lindas’s’ testimony should be held behind closed doors and pointed out that she’d been happy to talk about the case with the DN newspaper. He’s confident that his client, ‘Mats’, will be freed.

Ekbacken director Wöllecke, however, is concerned about the wider implications, should the appeal be upheld:

“I’m afraid the pressure might be so great that [‘Linda’] will lose this time. That would send a very unfortunate message to other girls who have been through the same thing.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, Sydsvenskan