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Outrage over teens' two-month detention without charges

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07:56 CEST+02:00
Two months after five teenagers were placed in a remand centre in Umeå in northern Sweden, the attorney for one of the youths is speaking out about the prolonged detention.

“Only Albania and Spanish martial law have similar rules,” attorney Thomas Olsson told the Västerbottens Folkblad newspaper.

The five teens, ages 16 to 19, are being held on suspicions of attempted murder while prosecutors continue their investigation in an effort to bring formal charges.

But Olsson, who represents the youngest suspect, takes issues with both the extended detention as well as the tough restrictions placed on his client and the other young people.

“Isolation and restrictions can be detrimental to a person's mental health and diminish someone's capacity to defend himself against criminal charges,” Olsson told the newspaper.

The teens are in custody with complete restrictions, meaning they are locked in a cell 23 hours a day, totally cut off from their surroundings, and without access to newspapers, television, or radio.

Olsson points out that the United Nations has repeatedly criticized Sweden for rules governing the detention of criminal suspects pending formal charges.

“In other countries it's evidently quite possible to conduct a criminal investigation without needing to keep people isolated,” he said.

The prosecutor in the case, Kjell Janneson, said it's unfortunate that the 16-year-old needs to be detained, but he still believes the measure is necessary for the case in question.

“Had it been a less serious crime and another person, we may have considered other solutions, ” said Janneson, adding that the 16-year-old has a criminal past.

The five teens are in custody on suspicion of attempted murder in relation to an incident in which three people were badly beaten outside a gym in Mariaberg on April 9th of this year.

The assailants allegedly used a 20 kilogramme weight rack in the attack, causing life-threatening injuries to one of the victims, leaving him with a fractured skull, impaired speech, and partially paralyzed, according to Västerbottens Folkblad.

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