No time limit on life sentence

A 55-year-old prisoner has failed in a bid to have a time limit placed on his life sentence. On Tuesday Örebro District Court turned down the man's request to have his life sentence changed to 21 years.

Rules permitting early release for good behaviour after two thirds of a sentence mean that, had his request been granted, the man would be due to leave prison in January of next year.

The prisoner was originally sentenced for his part in a brutal murder in Huddinge south of Stockholm in 1993. He and two other men executed a Norwegian man with of three shots to the head. All three men handled the murder weapon in order to “share the guilt”.

Prior to his execution the Norwegian man was held captive and badly beaten. He was also forced to listen when the men voted on whether or not to spare his life. After the murder the 55-year-old carved up the body, stuffed the body parts into cement pipes and buried the pipes in the garden.

Chief prosecutor Peter Claeson cited the unusual cruelty of the murder as the main argument for not placing a time limit on the prisoner’s life sentence. The prosecutor considered that it was still too early to raise the question.

During his time in prison the man is said to have behaved in an exemplary manner. In the 13 years he has spent behind bars he has received psychological treatment and help with his alcoholism. He has also participated in all programmes offered by the prison service.

Experts for the prison service consider the risk of recidivism to be low. The man has trained as an alcohol therapist and has a family waiting for him whenever he is released. He has a wife of thirty years, three daughters and grandchildren.

The man’s lawyer considered these to be compelling arguments for his early release when negotiations were conducted last week.

Previously only the government could reset the length of a life sentence but these powers were extended to Örebro District Court on 1st November 2006.

A prisoner can only apply for a time limit on a life sentence after ten years of the sentence have been served. A life sentence may never be set below 18 years. Regulations on conditional release mean that individuals sentenced to life in prison could be released after 12 years.