Shelter women cleared of hiding kids from father

Three women who worked at a women's shelter in southern Sweden have been cleared of hiding children from their father, who had custody.

The women were put on trial for helping a woman hide along with her children over a period of six years, despite the fact that the father was the children’s legal guardian.

The women, who ran a women’s shelter in Tranås, 220km east of Gothenburg, had pleaded not guilty to charges of being ‘accessories to gross arbitrary conduct involving children’.

Eksjö District Court ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove that the women knew the mother did not have custody. They could therefore be convicted of being an accessory to her crime.

A fourth women, a former headmistress of the children’s school, was also found not guilty.

The former headmistress had not helped the mother to such an extent that she could be considered an accessory. The court also took account of the fact that the headmistress had tipped off police about the staff at the women’s shelter through an anonymous letter.

The women were given the written judgments in their case after turning up to Eksjö District Court on Friday morning.

“We’ve been acquitted, we’ve been acquitted,” one of the women cried out as she read the ruling.

Ingela Engstrand, one of the women acquitted and the chairwoman of the women’s shelter at the time the mother sought help, said she “never doubted that we did the right thing.”

Prosecutors had called for all four to be sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.