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Fatal beating an 'execution': prosecutor

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Fatal beating an 'execution': prosecutor
11:00 CEST+02:00
The female prison guard who was beaten to death by an inmate on Monday was alone with the 28-year-old offender at the time, in violation of a previous decision that the inmate should be accompanied by two guards when being moved.

“It doesn't get any more brutal than this. It was an execution, plain and simple,” said prosecutor Markus Hankkio to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The inmate, named in the Swedish media as 28-year-old Erik Ljungström, was being escorted from his cell in the Flemingsberg remand centre, south of Stockholm, to the elevator by two guards around 11am on Monday morning.

Ljungström has a long criminal past, including convictions for attempted murder and assault, and was in remand after being arrested in August 2011 on suspicion of attempted murder and arson.

Due to the danger he posed, officials at the jail had decided that two guards should be present to supervise any transfers of Ljungström to or from his cell, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reported.

But when Ljungström came out of the elevator, he was alone with the 24-year-old guard, while her closest colleague sat in an observation tower, one floor above.

“I've seen the surveillance film,” prosecutor Hankkio told Aftonbladet.

When the female guard opened the door out to the exercise area, located on the roof of the facility, she was attacked from behind, a source told the newspaper.

After knocking the 159 centimetre (5 ft. 3 in.) guard to the ground, Ljungström stood over the woman and continued to deliver punch after punch.

“We're talking about extreme blows to her head,” said Hankkio.

Witnessing the savage beating, another female guard rushed to her colleague's aid, armed with a baton.

But she was unable to overpower Ljungström, who instead managed to wrestle away the would-be rescuer's weapon and use it to continue his ruthless attack.

Only when a male guard arrived on the scene did Ljungström stop beating the female guard.

She was later rushed to hospital, but died a short time later.

Despite the prosecutor's claims being backed by surveillance camera footage, officials from Sweden's Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) maintain that Ljungström was continuously escorted by two guards.

“She wasn't the only staff member in the exercise yard,” the agency's regional head, Gunilla Ternert, said during a press conference on Monday.

Family members of the deceased guard are highly critical of the remand centre in the wake of the fatal beating.

“To put her, a 159-centimetre tall and unarmed woman, alone with a dangerous inmate....I don't know what to say. I don't have words,” the female guard's brother told Aftonbladet.

While there was a memorial service for the slain guard at the Flemingsberg remand centre on Tuesday, members of her family weren't invited.

“They haven't contacted us at all,” said the brother.

In addition, chief prosecutor Stefan Bergman decided on Tuesday to launch a preliminary investigation into suspected dereliction of duty as a result of what happened at the jail.

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