'No new trial' in Arboga murder case

TT/The Local
TT/The Local - [email protected] • 29 Aug, 2008 Updated Fri 29 Aug 2008 15:06 CEST

A court in western Sweden has decided not to hold a new trial in the case of the murder of two toddlers in Arboga, despite claims that several lay judges were biased against the main suspect.


Christine Schürrer, the German woman expected to be found guilty of the murder of two young children in March, requested a new trial because of statements in the media made by lay judges involved in the case.

But Västmanland District Court ruled on Friday that the comments did not constitute sufficient grounds for a retrial.

"I'm going to appeal the decision on Monday," Schürrer's lawyer, Per-Ingvar Ekblad told news agency TT.

On Wednesday, one lay judge, Cecilia Uggla, resigned from her post following statements she made to the Expressen newspaper which called her impartiality in the case into question.

The following day, Per-Ingvar Ekblad filed a formal objection with the court against the case's two remaining lay judges.

According to Eklad’s petition, both of the remaining lay judges revealed information about their own and the court’s deliberations ahead of the court’s final ruling in the case.

Ekblad pointed to statements in the tabloid press in which one of the remaining lay judges said “there is no reason to lie if one has the truth” and “the motive is unbelievably strong. The prosecutor has shown how it grew from Crete to Arboga”.

Ekblad said his client therefore questioned whether she received the fair trial to which she was entitled.

“My client can’t rid herself of the suspicion that both of the now reported lay judges have been affected by their resigned colleague’s preconceived notions on the question of [Schürrer's] guilt,” he wrote.

After Uggla’s resignation on Wednesday, Judge Per Kjellson said he planned to continue the trial as planned with a final courtroom session in early October following the results of Schürrer’s mental health evaluation.

When lay judges take up their post, they are instructed by the head of the court, who is a lawyer, about the standards expected of them.

Among other things, they are told not to speak with the press or other outsiders about what has been discussed during the closed-door deliberations which lead to a verdict.

Having non-lawyers involved in court decisions is based on the idea of adding insights from the general public into the deliberations and to see that the law is applied in a way that agrees with the public’s sense of justice.

On Tuesday, the court ruled that the burden of evidence showed Schürrer had murdered two children and attempted to murder their mother, ordering she undergo a psychiatric evaluation before the court decided on her eventual punishment.


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