Shelter women guilty of hiding kids

Three women who worked at a women's shelter in southern Sweden have been found guilty on appeal of helping a mother to hide her two children from their father, who had custody.

The former headmistress of the children’s school was also convicted on Thursday by Göta Court of Appeal of being an accessory to gross arbitrary conduct involving children.

The headmistress and the three women, who ran a women’s shelter in Tranås, 220km east of Gothenburg, were all cleared of the charges by Eksjö District Court in May of this year.

The appeals court sentenced two of the women to six months each in jail. The two remaining women were given suspended sentences and ordered to pay fines.

The testimony provided by a new witness for the prosecution proved decisive, according to the Court of Appeal. The court said it had now been proved beyond doubt that three members of the board of the women’s shelter knew that the mother was keeping her children hidden from their father.

The women were put on trial for helping to hide the woman and her children over a period of six years, despite the fact that the father was the children’s legal guardian. By providing the woman with economic support for the duration of her disappearance, the women became accessories to her crime, according to the Court of Appeal.

The court also ruled that the headmistress was aware that the father was the children’s legal guardian. She was judged to have been an accessory to the crime since she did not take action despite the fact that the children attended her school using false identities.

The children’s mother has a previous conviction for gross arbitrary conduct involving children, for which she received a ten month jail term.

The events that eventually led to a high-profile court case began ten years ago, when the woman moved to Tranås without informing the father of her two children, who had sole custody.

The woman received help from the women’s shelter with accommodation, opening a bank account and sending the children to school under false identities.