Stockholm District Court ruled on Friday that Hanna Wilenius had caused the prime minister grievous offence. In view of the fact that Sweden has previously been rocked by two ministerial assassinations, the court said she should have known there was a risk that the joke could be misinterpreted.
The practical joke was part of a comedy series produced by Strix on behalf of public service broadcaster SVT. The show is based on ‘Balls of Steel’, a programme made by British Channel 4.
Wilenius’s lawyer, Percy Bratt, said his client would be appealing the verdict.
Fredrik Reinfeldt testified in court via telephone. When asked whether he had felt offended by the water attack, the Prime Minister chose not give a direct answer.
“I wasn’t prepared and was taken aback by what happened. I didn’t find it funny when the water was squirted,” he said.
Reinfeldt explained that he had gone to see a movie with his two sons at the Rigoletto cinema. He was met by a number of entertainment journalists and quickly answered some of their questions.
When he walked further into the lobby he was met by a television team, led by a reporter holding a microphone bearing the logo of national broadcaster SVT.
“I was focussed on answering the entertainment journalists’ questions when I saw the microphone with the SVT logo and was somewhat startled. I thought that maybe something had happened and was getting ready to answer some news-related questions,” said Reinfeldt.
It was then that Wilenius stepped forward and promptly asked the Prime Minister if he had a sense of humour. Having thanked him for the interview and wished him a good weekend, Wilenius then squirted water from her microphone into Reinfeldt’s face.
“I never intended to offend the Prime Minister,” she said.
Wilenius added that as it was a fun occasion – the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – she thought there would be no problem playing a practical joke on the Prime Minister.