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"Haga man" charged with three rapes

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19:39 CEST+02:00
The 33 year old suspect was charged with three of the so-called "Haga man" attacks on Friday.

With his back to the audience and a hood over his head, he was informed of the development in a secure room at police headquarters.

Chief prosecutor, Annika Öster, had applied for four attacks, carried out between 1998 and 2005, to be included on the charge sheet. However, the district court considered that only three of the cases were sufficiently strong.

"It's the same three cases where we currently have DNA evidence," said Öster to TT.

The first crime the 33 year old has been charged with was committed in May 1999, when a 25 year old woman was raped at night in a park in the Haga district of the city. There were four further attacks in Haga committed between 1998 and 2000, which were ascribed to the same unknown attacker,

who became referred to as "Haga man". But none of those crimes was included on the prosecutor's charge sheet.

"The man was arrested a couple of days ago. We realised we didn't have much time and quickly came to a decision about how to go about charging him. I've opted to go ahead with these cases, that doesn't mean that we won't look at the others as well in the future," explained Annika Öster.

The district court found sufficient evidence to charge the man for an aggravated rape and murder attempt in the university area of Umeå in March 2000. The 20 year old woman suffered an extremely violent attack. She was abandoned in a snow drift, unconscious and with serious injuries.

The attack which led to the man's arrest and which he's also been charged with happened last December. A 51 year old woman was on her way home at night from a pub, when she was violently raped on the banks of the Umeå river. There was also an attempt to murder her.

Defence lawyer, Leif Silbersky, was not surprised that his client was charged, but had expected more of the DNA evidence offered.

"I'm not prepared to discuss details, but I have to say that my understanding is that more investigation is required as far as DNA is concerned. DNA can acquit as well as convict," said Silbersky.

Both Annika Öster and Leif Silbersky joined in heavily criticising the publication of the suspect's name and picture in Expressen, amongst other papers.

"The prosecutor and I have seldom, if at all, experienced an investigation being potentially ruined at such an early stage," said Silbersky. He believes it will now be difficult to hold identification parades, should they become necessary.

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