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GOTHENBURG MURDER PLOT

CRIME

Court orders Vilks plot suspects released

The three men accused of planning to murder controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks in a foiled attack in Gothenburg on September should be sentenced to prison, prosecutors argued in their closing arguments on Wednesday.

Court orders Vilks plot suspects released

“My client is incredibly relieved,” defence attorney Urban Gilborne told the TT news agency following news of his client’s release, announced late Wednesday afternoon by the Gothenburg District Court.

“I’ve also spoken with his family and they are overjoyed and excited that he’s coming home.”

According to Gilborne, the court’s decision to life the remand order on the three suspects, who have been held in custody since September, is a sign that they are innocent.

He emphasized, however, that the final verdict won’t be announced until January 20th.

“I’ve claimed the whole time that the evidence was weak,” he said.

Vilks, known for his controversial artwork published in Nerikes Allehanda in 2007, has been subject to several attacks and threats and has received plenty of media attention.

During a four day hearing, which concluded on Wednesday, prosecutors attempted to prove that the three men suspects intended to murder Vilks during a biennial art show at the Röda Sten gallery in Göteborg on September 11th.

The evidence against the three men, identified in court documents as Abdi Aziz Mahamud, a 26-year-old Somali citizen living in Sweden, and Swedish citizens Salar Sami Mahamood, 24, and Abdi Weli Mohamud, 26, consists of recordings of telephone calls between them.

But Ulf Ahlstedt, the lawyer representing one of the three men, argued that the recordings weren’t sufficient enough to prove his clients’ guilt.

“The recording quality of the telephone calls is not clear enough and this evidence cannot be relied on,” said Ahlstedt to news agency TT.

In closing arguments, the prosecutor argued the suspects should be convicted of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to at least three years in prison.

In addition, the alleged murder plot could be seen as an attack on Vilks’ freedom of expression, which strengthens the cause for conviction, the prosecutor said.

Whilst the men admit that they hate Vilks, they deny having plotted his murder.

Swedish security service Säpo had had men under observation for several months prior to their arrest in early September 2011.

A female police officer, whose identity has been protected, said in testimony via telephone that the decision to arrest the three suspects was issued by officials at Säpo headquarters in Stockholm.

However, she refused to elaborate on why Säpo had been conducting surveillance on the men.

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POLITICS

Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

Sweden's Christian Democrats have called for tougher sentences for sex offenders and making release conditional on chemical castration.

Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

The Swedish Christian Democrats (KD) leader has called for the chemical castration of certain sex offenders as part of plans for a tougher grip on sexual crime and punishment in Sweden.

Speaking to the Swedish parliament on July 1st, KD party leader Ebba Busch said, “Every day, 27 rapes are reported. How many days must pass before the government takes action?”

“Today we propose that rapists and people who commit sexual crimes against children should be able to be chemically castrated.”

The controversial chemical castration proposal was the headline grabbing soundbite in a broader set of proposals to recalibrate the structure of Sweden’s sexual crime sentencing.

Among KD’s proposed sentencing changes is a life sentence for the aggravated rape of a child, the removal of automatic conditional release for sex offenders, and an increase in the sentence for aggravated rape up to a maximum of 25 years.

In addition, they want a “monitoring period” for convicts who have been released, equivalent to one third of the sentence served.

They also want to establish a national knowledge centre for sexual violence where people who feel that they have “problematic sexuality” can receive support. The center must also “be able to administer chemical castration on a voluntary basis to those who are concerned about unwanted sexual thoughts and impulses and have a compulsive sexuality”.

READ ALSO: What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Chemical castration, she suggested, should be implemented as a condition of release for some sexual offenders. “It may mean that if a person like Nytorgsmannen is to be able to become a free man, a chemical castration must have taken place before the release,” Busch said, referring to Andreas Holm, a man sentenced in 2021 for 35 different crimes including 24 rapes.

But this is not the first time the Christian Democrats have toyed with the idea of chemical castration as a form of legal punishment. As far back as 20 years ago, under former leader Alf Svensson, the right-wing party raised the idea of conditional chemical castration of rapists and pedophiles.

At the time the proposal was rejected by all other parties.

Chemical castration, the process of preventing sex hormone production through chemicals, can reduce sexual libido but the effects on those with deviant behaviours are relatively unknown.

Chemical castration can also prove costly as it is not a one-off treatment but rather requires regular interventions, which means the police would be reliant on those sentences to chemical castration making regular trips to the authorities for further treatment.

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