Men guilty of abusing corpse – but not murder

Sweden's Appeal Court has upheld the verdict that a man found buried in a Malmö cellar with his head chopped off in January 'had been exposed to violence before his death'.

But it has still not been possible to determine who committed the act, said the court. The two men who were prosecuted for the murder have only been found guilty of the macabre treatment of the body afterwards.

Both men, one aged 47 and the other aged 46, were sentenced on Wednesday to one and a half years in prison for committing offences against a dead body.

The verdict was as expected, reckoned lawyer Mikael Nilsson, who defended the older man. He said he was surprised that the prosecutor had even pursued the case as far as the Appeal Court.

“The cause of death could not be established, so nobody could be found guilty of murder. The prosecutor has to prove when, where and how it happened, and who did it. If you can’t answer those questions then you can’t find someone guilty of murder,” said Nilsson to TT.

The pathologist who examined the body said in court that it could not be ruled out that the man had died of an overdose. The body had multiple injuries, including some which could be described as typical ‘defence injuries’.

These, along with what happened to the body afterwards, suggested that the man had been subjected to violence in connection with his death, said the court. But if the intention had been to kill the man was still unclear.

The men’s treatment of the corpse was described by the court has “a serious abuse of the respect that ought to be shown to a dead body”.

The corpse was first stuffed in a sleeping bag, which was in the house of the Videdal part of Malmö where he died, said one of the men afterwards. Then it was buried in the cellar.

After pouring hydrochloric acid over the body the men hacked off the head with a spade, since the hole in the cellar floor was too small. The head was placed in a rucksack and dumped in the Öresund.

The macabre events took place in April 2005. Police found the body nine months later after a tip-off. Some time later the head was found in the water outside Limhamn, where one of the men later admitted that it had been thrown.

The dead man was a drug addict with a criminal history – as are the two men who have now been sentenced for the treatment of his body.