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Expressen editor fined for Persbrandt libel

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14:36 CET+01:00
The editor of Swedish tabloid Expressen has been convicted of libel by Stockholm district court for articles his paper wrote about actor Mikael Persbrandt.

A jury had already found editor Otto Sjöberg guilty of libel, but under the Swedish system this decision had to be confirmed by judges.

When the court delivered its guilty verdict on Friday it fined Sjöberg 80,000 kronor and ordered him to pay Persbrandt damages of 75,000 kronor. The actor had demanded half a million kronor.

The ruling comes a year to the day after Expressen splashed with the story that Persbrandt was suffering from acute alcohol poisoning and had been admitted to a clinic for treatment.

The paper put the story on its front page, on billboards, on two inside pages and on its website. The main details of the Expressen story were completely untrue.

The jury, composed of laymen, reached its verdict on 24th November. Libel cases are unusual in the Swedish system for using a jury, although its role is only advisory.

The case against Sjöberg was brought by the Chancellor of Justice, the government's own lawyer. The chancellor only brings libel actions in exceptional circumstances. The last time a libel case was 15 years ago, also against the editor of Expressen. On that occasion the editor was cleared.

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