23-year-old convicted over car park killing

A 23-year-old man has been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 22 months imprisonment in connection with the death of a 78-year-old woman who was assaulted during a parking lot dispute in southern Sweden in March.

23-year-old convicted over car park killing

Lund district court convicted the man of assaulting the woman outside a supermarket in Landskrona. The attack caused her to fall over and sustain injuries to the back of her head that led to her death in hospital two days later. The 23-year-old was also found guilty of assaulting the woman’s 71-year-old husband.

The 23-year-old was also ordered by the court to pay 25,000 kronor ($3,500) in damages to the 78-year-old’s husband and her estate.

The Lund court said the 23-year-old would have faced a slightly longer sentence of two years had he not suffered from psychological problems. An examination carried out by the National Board of Forensic Medicine (Rättsmedicinalverket) found the he had long suffered from a form of constant anxiety and related stomach complaints which made him less well-equipped for jail than the majority of prisoners.

The court found that the 23-year-old punched the 71-year-old man in the head and back in an unprovoked attack. He also punched the 78-year-old woman in the head when she intervened to help her husband.

The 23-year-old was fully aware that he was hitting an elderly woman, the court found.

The 23-year-old’s credibility in the case was damaged by the fact that he left the car park immediately after the attack and did not make himself known before the police arrived at his home to place him under arrest. When questioned by police, he denied having been at the scene of the crime.

The 71-year-old on the other hand provided the court with consistent information from the outset. The court also took into account the fact that a man who witnessed the attack from a nearby restaurant provided a different account than the 23-year-old as to why the woman fell to the ground.

Details provided by the 23-year-old’s 9-year-old niece were of very limited value, the court said, since the perpetrator had four days to exert his influence on the girl before his arrest.

The 23-year-old’s lawyer Leif Silbersky immmediately anounced his intention to appeal the verdict.

“I don’t agree with the district court’s evaluation of the evidence,” he said.

Name and address details of the 23-year-old and his family were posted on several websites after his arrest. Because of the heightened threat level, the man and his lawyer hesitated before appealing an earlier remand ruling as they considered it “safer” for him to remain in custody.

The 23-year-old comes from a family of immigrants and his arrest led to ethnic tensions in Landskrona. The right-wing extremist National Democrats called a public meeting in the town square to “protest against anti-Swedishness”. Seeking to counter a rising tide of racial antagonism, organizations including the Church of Sweden and the local Islamic society held their own anti-violence demonstrations.

“But this isn’t a problem specific to Landskrona,” said Urban Jansson, the 23-year-old’s original defence lawyer.

“This incident could have happened anywhere and most of the comments on the internet probably weren’t written from here.”

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Court slashes sentence in ‘honour killing’ case

A Swedish appeals court has reduced a lower court's eight-year prison sentence for a 17-year-old boy found of guilty fatally stabbing his sister more than 100 times after she fled a forced marriage in Iraq, in what the court referred to as an "honour killing".

Court slashes sentence in 'honour killing' case

In a ruling issued on Tuesday, the Malmö Court of Appeals (Hövrätten), upheld the teen’s guilty verdict, but discarded the lower court’s eight-year prison sentence.

The court instead sentenced the boy to four years in juvenile detention because he was 16 when he killed his sister.

As the boy was only days away from his 17th birthday at the time of the attack, the lower court had decided to punish him as a 17-year-old rather than as a 16-year-old, allowing for a longer prison sentence.

The appeals court verdict stated that had the the crime been committed by an adult, it would have warranted a sentence of life in prison.

The appeals court’s verdict also confirmed that there was enough evidence to tie the teen to the murder, restating that the apparent motive was the notion of protecting the family’s honour.

The 17-year-old’s sister had previously fled a forced marriage in Iraq and returned to Sweden. Her body was found with multiple stab wounds in her Landskrona apartment in April 2012.

Representatives of the Malmö-based organization Tänk om, which works to stop honour crimes, told local media at the time that the woman had been in touch with them for one year since returning to Sweden and that she slept with a knife under her pillow for fear of reprisals over her escape.

They claimed local authorities had ignored their warnings that the woman was under threat and needed protection.

After being found guilty in district court, the victim’s brother appealed his sentence and argued he should be set free.

Upon learning of the verdict, attorney Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represented the victim’s sister, claimed the question of sentencing for violent crimes committed by young people should be tried in the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen).

“You have to look at what sort of murder we’re dealing with. There are a number of complicating circumstances,” she told the TT news agency.

She added, however, that she was happy that the appeals court had confirmed the “honour” motive for the killing, seeing the verdict as a sign that the Swedish courts are starting to deal with a matter facing many young people in Sweden.

“I’m even more pleased considering all of those who have actually been victims of honour crimes,” she said.

TT/The Local/at

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