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Swedish Supreme Court jails Mijailovic for life

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12:06 CET+01:00
Mijailo Mijailovic, the man who killed Sweden's foreign minister Anna Lindh in September 2003, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murder by the country's Supreme Court.

The decision overturns the judgement of the Appeals Court, which sentenced him to psychiatric care after he appealed against a verdict of life imprisonment in the initial trial.

In making their decision, the five Appeal Court judges rejected the conclusion of a justice committee which found that Mijailovic was "seriously mentally disturbed" at the time of the killing.

"The investigation is not considered to have provided enough support for the conclusion that the primary explanation for Mijailovic's psychological disturbance was, or is now, of a psychotic character," wrote the Supreme Court in its judgement.

"That he suffers from a personality disorder can be considered proven, but not that it is so malignant that it can be considered a serious mental illness."

The chief prosecutor on the case, Krister Petersson, told the journalists gathered at the Supreme Court that he was relieved by the decision.

"I feel pleased and satisfied," he said. "I have lived with this case so intensively for a year now, under enormous attention from the mass media and public, and it's nice that it's over."

According to the news agency TT, Petersson said that the judgement was "important for the public's belief in the justice system".

"The people who have tried this legal case are the country's most experienced and professional judges, the highest lawyers we have," he said. "People must also remember that there is strong, decisive evidence which has never come into the public domain because it is confidential."

Mijailovic's history of psychological problems has been well documented and his own explanation for the murder was that he "heard voices and felt unwell". He claimed that he had no intention of killing Anna Lindh and his lawyer said that it was just a coincidence that the victim was Sweden's foreign minister.

The attack took place in Stockholm's prestigious department store, NK, on September 10th 2003. Anna Lindh was with a friend, shopping for clothes to wear in a TV debate the following night, when Mijailovic stabbed her and ran off. The foreign minister died of her injuries the next day.

Five days later police arrested a 35 year old man in connection with the murder. DNA tests showed that he was not the killer and it wasn't until September 24th that Mijailo Mijailovic was arrested.

In March he was found guilty of murder and sentenced by Stockholm District Court to life imprisonment. However, his appeal against the decision was upheld in July - despite the fact that Mijailovic refused to answer any questions in court - and his sentence was reduced to psychiatric care.

In September Mijailovic gave up his Swedish citizenship in favour of his Serbian passport and a few weeks later he fired his lawyer, Peter Althin. In the Supreme Court hearing, his new lawyer, Mikael Nilsson, pressed for the judgement to be reduced to manslaughter.

Mijailovic will now be taken to Kumla prison to begin his sentence. However, according to Mikael Nilsson, he wants to be transferred to a prison in Serbia. As DN pointed out, that depends to a large extent on whether Serbia wants him.

"Mijailovic may be a Serbian citizen...but he was born in Sweden and his closest family live here. So Serbia could argue that there is no reason to take Mijailovic."

At the same time as sentencing Mijailovic, the Supreme Court ruled that the compensation to be awarded to Anna Lindh's two sons should be raised from 50,000 crowns each to 100,000 crowns each.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Stockholm City

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