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Swedish court convicts dead man for assault

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12:21 CEST+02:00
A Swedish appeals court convicted a man in absentia of assault in April. The man's absence turned out to be due to his untimely death a month previously and the prosecutor has now called on the court to re-open the case.

The then 26-year-old man was tried on charges assault in Stockholm district court on May 27th 2009. While the court found him not guilty the prosecutor elected to appeal the case.

When the date for the hearing arrived, on April 19th 2010, the court concluded after a delay that the defendant would not be attending, but it was decided that the matter could be dealt with in absentia.

The Svea Court of Appeal overturned the district court ruling and found the man guilty of assault, issuing a fine of 15,000 ($1,886) and setting a deadline date for an appeal of May 24th.

But information submitted to the court after the hearing indicates that an appeal is not to be expected as the convicted man died on March 25th 2010, details which were brought to the attention of the court first on April 26th, court documents show.

"Now the appeals court has in the meantime convicted a deceased person, without any prior convictions, which existing rules do not allow," Malmö chief prosecutor Jörgen Lindberg writes in a letter appealing the court's ruling.

In a statement indicating that the principle "all are equal before the law" extends only until death, Lindberg argues that had the defendant's passing come to light in time, the case would probably have been closed or simply dismissed by the district court.

"In such circumstances the prosecutor should take the initiative to request this, in my view erroneous, conviction changed and the district court's ruling confirmed, or alternatively set aside."

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