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CRIME

Woman pleads not guilty to sledgehammer murder

A woman who beat her partner over the head with a sledgehammer before dumping his body into the sea has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder at Uddevalla District Court on Friday.

The woman, 54, told the court that she picked up the sledgehammer with the intention of handing it over to her 48-year-old boyfriend while the pair were on a sailing trip off the west coast of Sweden.

But as the tool changed hands he accidentally struck himself in the head, she said, banging the back of his head as he fell.

When questioned by police, the woman said that she believed her boyfriend was already dead when she began repeatedly hitting him over the head with the sledgehammer.

“At no point did my client intend to take his life,” the woman’s lawyer, Lennart Borgland, told the court.

But an expert from the Swedish Forensic Science Laboratory (SKL) suggested that fresh evidence obtained from blood samples taken from the scene did not tally with the woman’s version of events.

The suspect gave a calm impression in the courtroom, with her face revealing little emotion. She looked at the pictures presented by the prosecutor but averted her eyes from images depicting the dead man’s injuries.

The pair had been together for 30 years but were in the process of separating when they set out on a sailing trip together in October.

The man had been seeing another woman for the previous four years, a development that had left the 54-year-old in a state of crisis, her lawyer said.

The man had said he was frightened about how the woman would react to the separation.

The woman initially said that her partner had fallen overboard. But significant amounts of blood found on the boat and the injuries on the man’s body, which was found a short while later, led prosecutors to arrest the woman for murder.

CRIME

Swedish terror attacker sentenced to psychiatric care

A court has sentenced the far-right extremist Theodor Engström to psychiatric care for the knife attack he carried out at the Almedalen political festival this summer.

Swedish terror attacker sentenced to psychiatric care

The Gotland district court found the 33-year-old Engström guilty of murdering the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren, but did not agree that the murder counted as a terror attack.

It did find him guilty, however, of “planning a terror attack”, for his preparations to murder the Centre Party’s leader, Annie Lööf. 

“The murdered woman had a significant role [in society], a murder is always serious, and this had consequences both for Almedalen Week and for society more broadly,” the judge Per Sundberg, said at a press conference. 

The judge Per Sundberg announces the sentence on Theodor Engström on December 6th. Photo: Karl Melander/TT

But he said that the court judged that Sweden’s terror legislation was too restrictively drafted for her murder to count as a terror offence. 

“Despite Ing-Marie Wieselgren’s well-attested position within psychiatry, the court considers that her position as national coordinator at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions is not such that her murder can in itself be considered to have damaged Sweden. The act cannot as a result be classified as a terrorist crime on those grounds.” 

The court ruled that Engström’s crimes deserved Sweden’s most severe sentence, a life sentence in prison, but found that due to his disturbed mental state he should instead receive “psychiatric care with a special test for release”. 

In its judgement, the court said that an examination by forensic psychiatrists had found both that there were “medical reasons” why Engström should be transferred into a closed psychiatric facility and that “his insight into the meaning of his actions and his ability to adjust his actions according to such insight were at the very least severely diminished”. 

It said that under Swedish law, a court could send someone to prison who was in need of psychiatric care only if there were “special reasons” to do so. 

“The court considers that it has not been shown that Theodor Engström’s need of psychiatric care is so limited that there is a special reason for a prison sentence,” it ruled. 

Lööf wrote on Instagram that the judgement was “a relief”. 

“For me personally, it was a relief when the judgement came,” she wrote. “Engström has also been judged guilty of ‘preparation for a terror attack through preparation for murder’. This means that the the court is taking the threat towards democracy and towards politicians as extremely serious.”

The fact that the court has decided that Engström’s care should have a “special test for release” means that he cannot be discharged from the closed psychiatric hospital or ward where he is treated without a court decision. 

The court must rule both that the mental disorder that led to the crime has abated to the extent that there is no risk of further crimes, and that he has no other mental disorders that might require compulsory psychiatric care. The care has to be reassessed every six months. 

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