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Threats force judge out of teen pimping trial

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10:54 CEST+02:00
The presiding judge in the Malmö district court trial of ten men suspected of having sold a mentally handicapped 14-year-old girl for sex, has been forced to withdraw due to threats against her and her family.

Monica Nebelius, who was appointed to lead the proceedings when the trial of the ten men was due to start last week, was replaced by Björn Hansson when the trial eventually opened on Monday.

It was reported that Nebelius had been taken ill and would not be able to proceed with the assignment. But the judge has now confirmed that in fact it was threats directed against her which caused her to accede to police advice and withdraw.

"It was directed against both myself and my family. I can't live at home at the moment," Nebelius told the TT news agency.

Nebelius was unwilling to go into further detail over the threats, except to say that she is in receipt of continual updates from the police and hopes that she will be able to return to work at the district court as a soon as possible.

"I presume that I will be back at work as soon as possible. It is a just a question of getting going, there is no more to it than that," she said.

Nebelius is not alone among those involved in the case who have been on the receiving end of threats. The prosecutor Ulrika Rogland has been assigned bodyguards.

The high-profile trial opened to tumultuous scenes, and the head of the district court, Eva Wendel Rosberg, had to impose tight security around the court and the surrounding area on Stortorget in central Malmö.

The replacement judge, Björn Hansson, has been assigned a police escort to and from the court.

Eva Wendel Rosberg confirmed the information regarding Monica Nebelius on Tuesday morning.

"I can now confirm that there was a threatening situation after the first day of deliberations for Monica Nebelius. I did not want to publicise this initially due primarily to security reasons, but also for the sake of the parties concerned," she told the local Sydsvenskan daily.

The trial concerns allegations that the 14-year-old girl was sexually abused and raped by several different men after she ran away from a foster home in a nearby municipality last March before ending up in the Rosengård district of Malmö.

Although she is 14-years-old she is reported to have the mental age of a girl several years younger.

Five of the men have been charged with trafficking or assisting in human trafficking, and eight for rape. All of the suspects are men aged 16- to 67-years-old. Several of the men have admitted to having sex with the girl, but claim that they thought that she was much older.

The case is also significant because it represents the first time that prosecutors in Sweden have attempted to classify pimping crimes as human trafficking.

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