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CRIMINAL

‘Dusk and dawn pyromaniac’ faces court

The 47-year-old man known as the "dusk and dawn pyromaniac" faces trial in Ystad in southern Sweden on Monday, charged with having set fire to an apartment block in the town in December.

'Dusk and dawn pyromaniac' faces court

Police have been hunting for Ulf Borgström several years, with the operation costing 11 million kronor ($1.7 million) in 2010 alone.

The man was being watched on the night in question and much of the body of evidence is based on reports from the police surveillance team, with additional forensic evidence.

Borgström has figured in a large number of police investigations of arson, but sufficient evidence to press charges has always been lacking.

On this occasion the 47-year-old admits that he was at the location, but claims that he knew that he was being followed by police and fled up to the attic of the building. He denies that he started the fire.

Nine police officers were deployed in the surveillance team on the December night in question with the team following the suspected “Dusk and dawn” pyromaniac’s every move.

Aside from their witness testimony the surveillance team was able to secure forensic evidence.

“Previously all the evidence has always been destroyed in the fire. The difference this time is that it remained,” Dan Granvik at Ystad police, who has worked with this case exclusively for three years, said.

“The difference from previous occasions is that this time he put lives at risk,” he added.

The man has been suspected for several hundred fires over the course of several years. Some estimates indicate that the damages could amount to around 1 billion kronor.

The man has been convicted on only one occasion for having set something alight – in Dalarna in central Sweden some years ago. On that occasion he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Borgström has been arrested on a number of occasions, held on remand and then released. He has also received 21,000 kronor in damages from the Swedish state for a period on remand.

He has also undergone two psychiatric evaluations and has been declared to be of sane mind.

“Of course he has psychological problems, but not to the extent that he is in need of care,” said Dan Granvik.

While suspect in arson attacks are routinely dubbed “pyromaniacs”, the police believe that in this case the use of the word is also dubious with the man thought to be motivated by his hate against society and the fires are not compulsive.

“Pyromania is a very rare diagnosis,” said professor Martin Grann at Karolinska Institute. Over the years I have only met a handful of pyromaniacs.”

“It is more commonly a question of an aggressive act when someone sets a fire. Insurance fraud is also a common reason,” he said.

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CHRISTMAS

Sweden’s Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season

Sweden's straw yule goat Gävlebocken, whose biggest claim to fame is its tendency to get burned down every year, is all set for its annual return on Sunday.

Sweden's Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season
The ill-fated 2016 Gävlebocken. Photo: Pernilla Wahlman/TT

Every year, the Christmas goat (Gävlebocken) in the Slottstorget square in Gävle, central Sweden, attracts a media storm with locals dreaming up new ways to protect the arson-prone 13-metre-high creation.

Despite their efforts, including in some years spraying the goat in anti-flammable liquid, the goat usually goes up in flames long before Swedes have opened their Christmas presents.

Last year, the goat surprisingly made it to Boxing Day intact, to the delight of organisers, who were reported to have put a “secret” plan into effect to protect it.

In 2016 it was less fortunate, going down in flames mere hours after its inauguration.

READ ALSO: 'Memorial' to be held for Sweden's giant yule goat

“Many people are invested” in the straw goat in Gävle, Maria Wallberg of the town’s municipality told TT.

The central Swedish town is naturally proud of its luckless Christmas decoration, despite the fact it has burned town 29 times during its 50-year history.

Thousands of people are expect to attend the unveiling of the goat on Sunday, with the ceremony to be presented by Swedish comedian Clara Henry.

“It means an incredible amount that the city has such a strong symbol which is known all over the world,” Wallberg said.

Security around the giant goat is expected to be high, both during its inauguration day and throughout December. Security guards and cameras will both be deployed to keep an eye on it behind its fencing, while a taxi rank has been moved to the square to increase the presence of people in the area.

“For security reasons, we can’t go into too much detail,” Wallberg said of any further precautions.

Historical precedent is against Gävlebocken. In its first year, 1966, it burned down on New Year’s Eve and it has only made it through the entire month on 15 occasions. It has been burned, stolen and vandalised. In 1976, someone drove a stock car into it.


Orörd = undamaged; uppeldad = burned down; annan skada = otherwise damaged; oklart öde = fate unknown. Graphic: TT

“An attack early in the season would mean cancellations at hotels and restaurants. So it is incredibly important for Gävle, Gävle’s businesses and for everyone who wants to visit the goat that it is still standing at New Year,” Wallberg said.

READ ALSO: Five weirdest attacks on Gävle's arson-prone Christmas goat

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