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Swedish court convicts dead man for assault

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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OFFBEAT

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim

Police on the island of Gotland removed a public sculpture from the Galgberget nature reserve near Visby on the grounds that it is just too creepy.

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim
The gallows at Galgeberget. Photo: Artifex/WikiCommons
According to local news site Hela Gotland, someone was out for a stroll on Galgeberget (the Gallows Hill) on Wednesday when they saw what they thought was a body hanging after a suicide. Local police were contacted but when they went to investigate they instead found a sculpture by artist Jessica Lundeberg. 
 
The artwork, entitled ‘The Watcher in the Woods’, is a partially transparent plate sculpture that looks like a spooky little girl. 
 
 
Despite discovering that the suspected suicide victim was actually artwork, police determined that Lundeberg’s piece could scare others and thus took the sculpture down. 
 
“It was decided that if it were to remain, more people would likely be frightened in the same way,” Gotland police spokesman Ayman Aboulaich told Radio P4 Gotland. 
 
Lundeberg told Hela Gotland that the sculpture has been at Galgeberget since a public art project last summer and that this was the first time it had caused any concern. She said ‘The Watcher in the Woods’ was the only piece that was allowed to remain after the end of the project. But now it is there no more. 
 
 
Lundeberg has taken the sculpture back to her studio. While she hopes it will eventually return to Galgeberget, the artist told Hela Gotland it seems unlikely.  
 
She said that the sculpture was damaged by police. 
 
“It was ragged, dismantled and broken. I was horrified when I saw it,” she said. 
 
Police have reportedly promised to pay any necessary repair costs.
 
Although the person who reported the sculpture to the police has not spoken with the media, their jump to conclusions could perhaps be attributed to the nature reserve’s macabre history. Galgeberget is still home to gallows that were used to hang criminals for centuries. The last execution to be held at the site was in 1845, according to Hela Gotland
 
 
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