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Hunter charged for shooting elk, killing skier

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Hunter charged for shooting elk, killing skier
10:50 CEST+02:00
A 32-year-old Swedish hunter who fired a single shot that passed through an elk before hitting and killing a cross-country skier has been charged with manslaughter.

The 71-year-old cross country skier was killed instantly by the stray bullet in an incident which took place in December of last year outside of Ljungby in southern Sweden.

Prosecutor Marcus Sjöstrand believes the female hunter neglected to take proper precautions before firing the fatal shot.

"It's important to test where the boundary for carelessness lies and the court need to look at all the circumstances," Sjöstrand told the local Smålandsposten newspaper.

According to Sjöstrand, the case is the first of its kind in Sweden.

The hunter believes the shooting should be considered accidental, according to her lawyer, Lars Cronqvist, who explained that his client made a faulty assessment.

"As a hunter, you make an assessment when you choose where you're going to stand. Her assessment was that was a target butt in the form of a small rise. She's experiences, but also had another experienced hunter with her who also shared her judgment," Cronqvist told the TT news agency.

The woman took her hunting licence six years ago, but it was the first time she had shot an elk.

"It's an incredibly tragic experience for everyone involved, not least for the family of the victim, of course, but my client has also take this quite hard," her lawyer added.

During the trial, the accident will be reconstructed at the sight of the deadly shooting.

According to investigators, the hunter shot an elk calf from about 50 metres away. At the same moment, the 71-year-old skier came around a curve.

The bullet hit the elk in the neck and continued another 60 metres before hitting the skier, killing him instantly.

Henrik Barnekow, a hunting consultant at the Swedish Hunters Association (Svenska Jägareförbundet) in Kristianstad, told news agency TT at the time that it is not uncommon for a shot to pass through an elk or any other game.

However, he has never heard of a bullet continuing on to kill someone.

The Hunters Association nevertheless welcomed the indictment.

"The indictment in itself is justified because we all want to know where responsibility rests," the association's Daniel Ligné told TT.

The outcome of the case may end up being taken into account in the association's future education and information initiatives.

"This has been a punching bag in order to discredit hunters. That's a shame, because this is a tragic incident which is the consequence of a series of very unfortunate circumstances," said Ligné.

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