Rare victory for doctors accused of dismemberment

Two doctors accused of dismembering the body of a murdered prostitute in 1984 have achieved their first legal victory in a long quest to clear their names.

The Attunda District Court outside of Stockholm ruled on Tuesday that the doctors’ lawsuit against the state was still valid under Sweden’s statute of limitation rules.

The two doctors, referred to in the media as ‘the general practitioner’ and ‘the pathologist’, were brought to trial in 1988 for the killing of prostitute Catrine da Costa, whose dismembered body was discovered in 1984.

While the two doctors were cleared of murder charges, the court’s ruling at the time claimed the pair had dismembered the woman’s dead body – a crime for which they had not been charged and on which the statute of limitations had expired at the time of the original trial.

In 1991, both doctors had their medical licenses revoked.

Claiming that the state had destroyed their lives through a long chain of mistakes, the pair sued the state for 40 million kronor ($6.8 million) in damages last autumn–nearly 20 years after the original trial.

Tuesday’s ruling clears the way for the doctors’ case to be heard in its entirety in a new trial, likely to take place in September.

It also marks the first time a Swedish court has looked favourably on the doctors’ case, despite nearly a dozen attempts by the two to set the record straight.