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Court told of Haga Man's crimes

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10:30 CEST+02:00
The high-profile trial of Niklas Lindgren, known as the Haga Man, began on Friday morning, as he was brought into the court in Umeå police headquarters and listened to the prosecutor read the six charges which he is facing.

At 10:30 am Lindgren entered the room directly from his jail cell along with his attorney, Leif Silbersky. He looked anxious as he glanced at those watching the trial. Wearing a grey t-shirt and jogging pants and with his feet in a pair of bathing shoes he leaned foward, filled a mug with water and took a gulp.

The case outlined by prosecutor Annika Öster painted a picture of a serial rapist whose crimes became more violent every time. They culminated in the final attack, in which he is accused of biting off part of the ear of his 51-year old victim as he was raping her, and attempting to drown her in Umeå's icy river.

As Öster was speaking, Lindgren looked at his papers. When she described how he had tried to kill a 22-year old woman near Umeå University in March 2000, he shifted in his chair and scratched his head.

His lawyer said his client admits to five of the rape charges, but denied trying to murder two of the women.

He also denies raping a 15-year old girl in the Ersboda district of the city in December 2000. Silbersky argues that an attack on a 50-year old woman in November 1999 should only be classed as attempted rape.

Öster spent much of the afternoon outlining the case of the woman known only as 'B', who was raped in May 1999. There was DNA evidence linking the rape to Lindgren, and he has admitted the attack.

Silbersky told news agency TT that his client was relieved that the trial had started, "so that he can find out what sentence he will get."

He said it was unfortunate that large parts of the trial were being held behind closed doors.

"That can give rise to speculation. At the same time all parties' interests must be taken into account, and that sometimes weighs more heavily than the principle of openness."

The decision to keep the press out was appealed by a number of media organizations, although the result of the appeals was not announced on Friday. Thomas Södermark, one of the judges hearing the case, said the decision was taken with interests of both the accused and the victims in mind.

"It is the rule rather than the exception to have closed doors in this kind of case," he said.

The trial is taking place in a police room in Umeå rather than in district court due to possible security risks.

The name Haga Man comes from the fact that he found his first victim in the Haga area of Umeå, back in 1998. During the past seven years he terrorized the city with random attacks on lone women late at night.

Lindgren was arrested at the end of March this year after his DNA was found to match that of the attacker.

The latest assault was possibly the most brutal. He is accused of attacking a 51-year-old woman near the E-4 bridge spanning the Umeå River. Lindgren allegedly beat the woman and bit her ear off before dragging her to the water and unsuccessfully drowning her.

Asked in police questioning by his lawyer why he had been so violent towards the women, Lindgren replied that it was a way to keep them quiet and stop them resisting.

Lindgren said he chose his victims randomly and never planned his attacks. Prosecutors said two of the rapes are also being considered attempted murder.

Insurance company Folksam is asking for 180,000 kronor reimbursement to cover the payments made related to two of the victims.

His trial is set to be completed before the end of June.

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