Calle Jonsson, who comes from Vallentuna, was released immediately after the seven members of the jury returned their unanimous verdict. In a brief statement, the court said that there was not enough evidence against Jonsson for a guilty verdict.
The Swede’s family was in Rhodes to hear the verdict and afterwards expressed their relief.
“I’m overjoyed,” Jonsson’s father told Expressen. “A great stone has been lifted from my heart.”
Jonsson’s mother, Katarina, spoke to Dagens Nyheter:
“This is completely wonderful. I didn’t dare to believe that it would turn out like this. I don’t know what we’ll do now but we shall certainly go back to the hotel and then eat dinner,” she said.
Jonsson had professed his innocence ever since he was first arrested for the attack on the island of Kos on 26th July 2001.
The Swede was held on remand until February 2002 when his family paid 136,000 kronor bail and in October 2003 a trial began in his absence. The court demanded that he be handed over by the Swedish authorities but their request was not authorised by the Swedish Supreme Court until November 2004.
Jonsson was eventually handed over to the Greek police at Arlanda airport in January, since when he has been in custody first on Kos, then in Rhodes.
The victim, 27 year old Christoforos Serdaris, a waiter from Thessaloniki who, like Jonsson, was on holiday at the time, pointed the Swede out as his attacker in court.
Serdaris’s blood was on Jonsson’s clothes but the Greek police failed to carry out any forensic examination of the crime scene. The Swede’s Greek lawyer, Vassilis Drossos repeatedly drew the court’s attention to the police’s mishandling of the case, including alleging that Jonsson’s clothes were packed into a drawer with those of the knife victim.
The DNA evidence was therefore useless, he said.
Calle Jonsson’s Swedish lawyer, Leif Silbersky, has been extremely critical of the Greek judicial system throughout the three years it has taken to bring the case to court.
However, speaking to news agency TT he said that the justice had been done.
“This is fantastic – the legal process has worked,” said Silbersky.
“I’ve said all along that anything could happen if the law doesn’t function. This feels nice, also for me personally since I’ve been critical of the way in which the investigation was carried out.”
According to Expressen, the costs to the Jonsson family have been huge. As well as Calle’s ten months in jail, the financial cost of lost income, legal fees, travel and hotels is “at least a million crowns”.
The family is now set to return to Vallentuna again, “to a normal life”.
For the time being, at least: Christoforos Serdaris’s lawyer said that he and his client plan to appeal.