Miscarriage of justice risk increasing

Reduced requirements for evidence in sex-related crime cases in Sweden has increased the risk that innocent people will be found guilty, according to an inquiry commissioned by the government.

Law professor Hans-Gunnar Axberger authored the justice report and examined the eleven cases since 1993 in which people have had long prison sentences overturned after petitioning for a new trial.

In the majority of those cases the accused have been entirely freed of all charges. The miscarriages of justice have been particularly serious in cases of sex-related crimes, according to the inquiry.

The report will be presented to the Chancellor of Justice after Whitsun, but Axberger gave a summary of his conclusions in Dagens Nyheter on Monday.

He was careful not criticise the judicial system but wrote that he believes that the risk that innocent people will be convicted by Swedish courts is clearly higher than when the inquiry began two years ago.

Axberger said that he had found examples of courts allowing subjective notions to replace impartial, objective assessment.

He proposed that an independent body should decide whether there is good reason to retry a case. It is not appropriate that the prosecutor’s office makes that decision, he said.