Outrage as civic ‘angel’ sent to prison

Per-Anders Pettersson intervened to save a 66-year-old woman from assault. But instead of being lauded for exercising his civic duty he is now about to start a prison sentence in a case that has sparked outrage in Sweden.

Pettersson saw how Gärd Forsgren, now 69-years-old, was being attacked in her car in the vicinity of Nås in the county of Dalarna in central Sweden.

It was then that he took a decision that would change his life and intervened.

Pettersson dragged the assailant from the car and hit him twice with a jack. His plea of self-defence was rejected by the Svea Court of Appeal which confirmed a Mora District Court ruling from June 2007 to convict him of aggravated assault.

The 26-year-old man and Pettersson were acquainted with each other, court documents show. The two men had previously been in dispute and court documents detail that Pettersson had placed the jack in his car after receiving a phone call about the 26-year-old’s behaviour on the day in question.

Gärd Forsgren is among those critical of the court’s decision to sentence Pettersson to a year in prison, a term which will begin in Norrköping next week.

“He has been treated dreadfully and unjustly. Would it have been better if this other man had strangled me?” she said to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

“He is the biggest angel that I have met,” she said.

The case has received widespread coverage in the media and poses questions as to when there is a right to intervene, and what measures are permissible under the law.

The case dates back to a summer’s evening in 2006.

A drunk 26-year-old man stopped Forsgren’s car while she was driving on route 71, forced himself into the vehicle and held her in a stranglehold that gave her cause to fear for her life.

Forsgren told the court that as many as 20 cars passed by and did not stop despite her screams and that she had the hazard lights flashing on her car.

Forsgren’s rescue was to arrive in the shape of 34-year-old Pettersson who at first screamed at the attacker and then hit him on the shoulder with the jack that he was carrying, according to Mora District Court documents.

Pettersson then hit the man a second time on the head with jack, causing the 26-year-old to sustain a fractured skull.

It is this second blow that rendered Pettersson’s claims of self-defence illegitimate in the eyes of the law and he was convicted in 2007 of aggravated assault, sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and ordered to pay the man 50,000 kronor ($7,063) in compensation.

Gärd Forsberg’s attacker was in turn sentenced to a probationary sentence and ordered to pay 8,000 kronor in compensation.

The 26-year-old man’s lawyer in the 2006 trial, Christer Söderberg, argues however that it is Pettersson who got off lightly.

“It could have been classified as attempted murder and then he would have got four years instead, Söderberg told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

Söderberg dismissed the discussion and the outrage now surrounding the case.

“Ridiculous. They want to take the law into their own hands up there and don’t think that the courts should get involved.”

The court ruled that there was no indication that the man intended to attack Pettersson once outside of Forsberg’s car.

The wording of the ruling has been described as “remarkable” by some legal experts, as self-defence under Swedish law should not require evidence to indicate whether there was an actual risk of attack.

“It doesn’t matter if anyone has any actual reason to suppose that he would be attacked. The most important concern is whether he felt that he would be,” Lena Holmqvist, a lecturer in law at Uppsala University, told Svenska Dagbladet.

After a decision by the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) to reject his application for a re-trial, Pettersson now faces no choice but to serve his time.

After almost three and half years he has had time to reflect over the events of that summer evening.

“Should I have just let it pass? This is a question which has turned my life upside down. I don’t regret it, but in view of what it has cost me I might think again next time,” Per-Anders Pettersson told Svenska Dagbladet.

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A Touch of Scandinavia: Reindeer in the kitchen

Scandinavian style is a seamless blend of tradition and modernity, respecting the old but adding just the right amount of cool. Viktoria Månström has it down to a fine art, and has quickly become a leading Scandinavian designer.

A Touch of Scandinavia: Reindeer in the kitchen
Designer Viktoria Månström and one of her Anna Viktoria products.

Reindeer and elk play beloved roles Swedish culture and heritage. And while taking them into your home may sound a bit extreme, Viktoria Månström, the designer behind Swedish home décor brand Anna Viktoria, has made it possible.

”Everything I design has a Scandinavian touch and a modern design built upon Swedish tradition,” Månström says. “I take the past and traditions of Sweden and bring them into the present.”

In other words, Månström designs coffee cups, kitchen trays, bowls, bottle openers, kitchen towels, key rings, and everything else you could possibly want to help bring a bit of Sweden into your home. 

And they’re covered in modern Swedish art, of course.

“I actually started with the Dala horse. I come from Dalarna so it felt like the right place to begin.”

While the Dala horse is a classic Swedish symbol, Månström’s version is a perfect example of contemporary Scandinavian design – clean, simple, modern and unique, mixing colours and patterns in an innovative way without looking too “busy”.

ou can buy Anna Viktoria's striped Dala horse here at The Local Brands

Månström’s knack for design was hardly unexpected.

“It’s been inside me for a very long time,” Månström tells The Local. “My grandmother made tapestries and my grandfather was a carpenter, so the tradition of craftwork was always there. They gave me a passion for colour and design. It came naturally.”

The company Anna Viktoria was born after Månström did a few designs for a friend. She then started participating in fairs and visiting tourist agencies, where she discovered the seed of a market for exactly what she was making: tradition meets modern design.

“It was tough at first,” Månström recalls. “I was a little ahead of my time, I think. But once things got going, they really got going.”

lick here to shop for items from Anna Viktoria

Now living in Jämtland in western Sweden, Månström has become a favourite of home decorators across the country, featuring in various home magazines and publications. She sells her products under the name “A Touch of Scandinavia” – and everything is both practical and chic.

”My products are truly Scandinavian; products that convey Sweden. And they also last. They’re items you can really use in everyday life.”

Purchase Anna Viktoria products at The Local Brands