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Assange right to slam Swedish courts: lawyers

The Local/dl · 5 May 2011, 16:48

Published: 05 May 2011 16:48 GMT+02:00

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"He is partially right about the Swedish legal system," writes Lapidus, a defence attorney and author of the best selling 2006 crime novel "Snabba Cash" ('Easy Money'), along with prominent defence lawyer Johan Åkermark, in an article published on Thursday in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The authors reference a study published in Legally Yours, a trade publication for the legal profession in Sweden, which surveyed 9,000 lawyers.

The survey, known as the Juristbarometern, revealed that 31.9 percent of lawyers answered yes when asked if they agreed with Assange's criticism of the Swedish legal system.

According to Lapidus and Åkermark, both of whom are partners in the same law firm as Assange's Swedish attorney Björn Hurtig, the WikiLeaks' founder is justified in taking issue with several aspects of the Swedish criminal justice system.

Writing in DN, the two lawyers explain that Assange is warranted in questioning Sweden's rules on remanding suspects in custody, which often prevent defence attorneys from having a chance to review material used as the basis for remand decisions until minutes before prosecutors present the evidence to a judge.

"We're of the opinion that remand in Sweden is used in a way that many other states governed by the rule of law would find unfamiliar," they write.

Speaking to Legally Yours, Hurtig said the statistics cited by Lapidus and Åkermark show that "mistrust of our legal system is greater than many believe".

"The system is built up so that, in principal, the suspect doesn't have any insight into the preliminary investigation," he said.

In addition, Lapidus and Åkermark share Assange's concerns about having lay judges, many of whom are retired politicians rather than trained legal professionals, preside over trials in Swedish courtrooms.

Also problematic for Assange is the possibility that, were he ever to face trial in Sweden, it would likely be held behind closed doors, a common practices when it comes to sex crime cases in Sweden.

While Lapidus and Åkermark admitted they didn't have any statistics on closed-door trials, "our impression is that proceedings are held behind closed doors more often in Sweden in many other states governed by the rule of law".

The authors are quick to point out, however that "Sweden has is a well functioning state based on the rule of law and in many respects is a model internationally".

Story continues below…

Lapidus and Åkermark emphasise that, while they "don't care specifically about Julian Assange" or the question of his innocence or guilt, they feel a responsibility to "remove the stains that exist in our system" which Assange's criticism has highlighted.

In February, a London court ruled that Assange could be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over sex crimes allegations stemming an August 2010 visit to Sweden by the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange's lawyers appealed the ruling in early March and his appeal is scheduled to be heard on July 12th.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:38 May 5, 2011 by Njal
"Assange right to slam Swedish courts: lawyers"

- agree.
18:48 May 5, 2011 by SimonDMontfort
"Nearly one third of Swedish lawyers, including best-selling author and lawyer Jens Lapidus, believe WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange is warranted in criticising the Swedish legal system, a new survey shows

.....and what do the other two-thirds think?
19:59 May 5, 2011 by Syftfel
Yes indeed. The Swedish system of justice deserves to be slammed!! This is in no small measure because it is so completely infested with soft hearted liberals and socialists with other society altering agendas. The result is that is spending too much time on meaningless DO issues, and touchy feely discriminaaaaation issues, while letting hard core violent criminals off with a coddling slap on the wrist. The entire Swedish justice system should be reformed inside and out, and get considerably more hard nosed where violent criminals actually get locked up for long periods and justice is actually served. And don't forget society's need for revenge! Less emphasis on "refooooorming" them, or "readjuuuuustment" or other such useless concepts, and more on Punishment. When a murderer goes to jailfor less than two years and a tax cheat is sent away for six, something is very wrong! In ten words or less: The social dems have ruled for too long!
21:17 May 5, 2011 by Grandson of Swedish Emigrants
So even attorneys in Sweden need to speak out to......."'remove the stains that exist in our system' which Assange's criticism has highlighted."

And yet there is not cry from the masses of citizens of Sweden to change its laws.

When people demonstrate in the streets that the legal system is a joke, then government will make changes.
22:35 May 5, 2011 by technoviking
And what about the other 68% of "lawyers"?

If 32% constitutes the opinion of "lawyers" then so would the opinion of 3 of them I imagine.

Clearly the majority agree that Assange is a schmuck who belongs on trial like anyone else.
22:41 May 5, 2011 by Tall swede
And now they conclude that those who wrote the article had connections with the firm that represents assange in sweden. Never trust lawyers...
23:13 May 5, 2011 by Kenny W
Of course the system doesn't work. It is the lack of critical thinking that concerns me the most. I've worked with many Swedish law students and Swedish people with law degrees. What surprises me is that they could never say with certainty, given certain facts, what would be the outcome of administrating the law in those circumstances. First I thought that my workplace just recruited low quality people however once I needed the legal system myself I found out that it is emotion or lack of emotion that determines what is important or unimportant in determining how the legal profession proceed or determined.

The legal profession aren't held accountable for their actions either. This is why the Chief Prosecutor Marie-Anne Ny acted disproportionately with the Julian Assange circumstances. Stupidity, apathy and emotion seem to be allowed. The DN that arrives each day for my sambo has given no critical analysis about the operation of their legal system until now and today's article wasn't even written by their correspondents.

I now fear that the good laws that have been legislated for the benefit of women, children and animals are not intellectually inspired or developed but they have from legislated from a bleeding heart. From the heart comes emotions and as Ny and the interviewing policewoman found out then one is prone to forget about principles of proportionality and process.

31% is high for a culture that lacks critical thinking.
23:15 May 5, 2011 by Nilspet
@Grandson of Swedish Emigrants

Unfortunate most Swedes are too shy to protest on the streets :(

One should expect more street protests in a democracy I suppose?
01:07 May 6, 2011 by Stickeroo
Government says jump, Swedes say how high. Of the other 60%, many of them probably declined to comment or answer the question. Or even partake in the survey. The average Swede thinks like this..."I don't do anything wrong, so why should I give a damn about how our justice system works?" and the government thinks "anyone who thinks things need to change in any way in the favor of criminals, is probably a criminal themselves and has something to hide".
01:24 May 6, 2011 by jackx123
the swedish legal system is based on "big brother' mentality where in some cases the minor courts make their own judgements with no recourse to defent.

this is especially true for tax related cases.
07:06 May 6, 2011 by karex
Agree with Syfftel. There is something fundamentally wrong when someone who cheats on their taxes is treated much more harshly in proportion to someone who commits a violent crime such as murder. I also don't think this is at all a matter of improvement to aid the criminal, much to the contrary, to aid society as a whole. How does the family of a murder victim feel when someone who killed their loved one gets away with a fine, a couple of years in prison and a slap on the wrist? And lay persons such as retired politicians act as judges? This is highly irregular. How can anyone without massive legal training perform such a service?
08:35 May 6, 2011 by RobinHood
Last year the justice minister struggled with the concept of the presumption of innocence before conviction. This year the prime minister publicly criticised a crimininal defendant during ongoing extradition proceedings. Sweden's sexual offences laws are written and applied by a bunch of raving loony feminists, turning every man and some women into rapists, and teams of policeman stake out middle-aged hookers for weeks at a time so they can listen to them having sex. Meanwhile, a judge in Stockholm says it's OK for policemen to beat members of the public, as long as they don't hurt them too badly, and the next week, two policemen in Göteborg took note, and beat a badly disabled man for speeding on his way to the hospital.

In February, Sweden's legal system was trashed in open court in London and the world's media reported every humiliating word on its front pages; 32% of Sweden's own lawyers seem to agree.

Incredibly, even now, some Swedes hold up Sweden as the acme of a modern legal system that other countires should aspire to. Er, no thank you.
09:35 May 6, 2011 by cogito
"And lay persons such as retired politicians act as judges?"

Karex, Yes. This is another example of the corruption in the judicial system here. They don't even have to be retired politicians; the judgeships are handed out to loyal party workers with no background in law. These amateur judges hand down their verdicts based on party ideology, as they generally incapable of grasping the legal issues presented.
09:41 May 6, 2011 by Grindsprint
Societies need for revenge eh.. I was hoping that kind of mentality was dead. Syftfel scares me. We shouldn´t listen to psychopaths about what to do with psychopaths. let´s keep this country civil.
10:40 May 6, 2011 by Morenikeji
Swedish legal system is a huge joke, just as Swedish police is corrupt and incompetent. I can testify to that from personal experience.
12:35 May 6, 2011 by Grindsprint
Yoyr personal experience is worth what? Nothing. My personal experrience says you are a huge joke. makes it true?
14:05 May 6, 2011 by Kaethar
If people want more information they need to read the Swedish article. This article isn't entirely correct. They didn't criticized lay judges but the TYPE of lay judges. Because many lay judges are white, male, and 50+ they didn't feel this was an accurate representation of Swedish society. It would be like criticizing who was selected for jury duty in the US, not the actual jury duty themselves.

These other issues presented are minor and common disagreements in the Swedish law sphere. The reason they have not been changed is because the majority of lawyers support the current system. That this group is using Assange's trial as a way to highlight their concerns and make them available to the public is smart but I don't see how anything's going to change if the majority are happy with the current system.
19:21 May 6, 2011 by munched
The other 68% are just being Swedish. Afraid to bite the hand that feeds them. Over and over and over, here on these pages we see crazy Swedish court rulings and a zero effort by crown counsels to charge criminal police. There is nothing trustworthy that I have found in the Swedish legal system. From the rsist, Nazi-like bully cops on the beat (they never walk a beat) to Beatrice Ask in cahouts with the CIA to the top crown counsel that suppressed and faked evidence to convict Thomas Quick to further his own career. If you're looking for justice, just look elsewhere because you won't find it here.
23:35 May 7, 2011 by jamesblish
You know, I have no problem discussing the judicial system and I'm sure that any nation, ours included, can do better in certain ways. Overall though, we have functioning and highly reliable courts. What makes me sad though, is how these types of debates frequently get hijacked by various shady individuals who seem to just hate women, swedish women especially. I don't know why, maybe they're too ugly to get a date or maybe they raped someone and got pissed when the cops found out. But it's sad to see that virtually all threads about courts and justice turn into that kind of hate mongering. I have no problem hearing people's opinion on swedish courts but if you're just a simply woman hater, I can't take you seriously.
02:14 May 8, 2011 by sgt_doom
"...and what do the other two-thirds think? "

The other two-thirds, like Claes Borgstrom and Thomas Bodstrom (and Anna Ardin), are connected to the Bonnier family businesses.

More interesting might be, what do all of them think about Carl Bildt and his having been a director at Lundin Petroleum during the massacres of Sudanese to get them off their oil-rich lands????
03:23 May 8, 2011 by Archie1954
A country's judicial process tells a lot about it's commitment to fairness, justice and the rule of law. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. That is now impossible in the Assange matter. How do you show that justice is being done when the prosecutor's office mishndled the original laying of charges, when a highly placed politician visits the prosecutor's office before charges are laid and when the office issues a warrant for his arrest when he hasn't even been charged. It smells badly, very badly!
15:32 May 8, 2011 by technoviking
Has anyone on here actually read the police report before commenting?

Yes, what he did would be a stretch to be called "rape" in other countries, but it certainly violated the lines of consent, personal safety and sleaze and warrants some sort of charges.

In Sweden it would be rape charges, elsewhere maybe battery or something, but what he did was wrong and he's a piece of s6!t.
00:15 May 10, 2011 by NiDoDo
Technoviking, none of the womens' charges fulfill even Sweden's extremely wide definition of rape. He stands accused of having had morning sex with a fully willing partner who gave clear consent both the night before and seconds after the morning sex was initiated. It's all in the police interview with her, read it. It's worth noting that she wasn't entirely happy with how the policewoman (an extremely biased friend of the other "victim") formulated her words, as she refused to approve it.

The other woman claims Assange had used light force to avoid having to use a condom, while both agree that the sex itself was fully consensual. She further claims he had torn the tip off condom on purpose. As proof, she eventually produced a torn condom that was examined by the police - and here's the kicker: NO DNA WAS DETECTED ON THE CONDOM. It had clearly not been used.

Hands up everybody who believes that a woman who blatantly fakes evidence in a sex trial will ever be punished in Sweden...
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