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Appeals court acquits Swedish 'exorcist'

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Appeals court acquits Swedish 'exorcist'
10:26 CET+01:00
A Swedish man, convicted and sentenced to prison by the district court for abusing his wife and having her “exorcised”, has appealed the verdict and been acquitted by the Court of Appeals (Hovrätten).

The man from Lund, in southern Sweden, had previously been sentenced to eight months in prison by the district court, which believed his wife's allegations that he had subjected her to verbal and physical abuse for an extended period of time, according to local paper Skånskan.

The case was not the first time the man faced abuse allegations.

He had previously been sentenced to six months in prison as early as 2006 but in 2010 he faced allegations yet again, this time for five incidents when police believed he had beaten his wife with fists, rope, shoes and a broom handle.

The woman claims he took the abuse one step further this time by attacking her from behind a shower curtain, like in a horror movie, and by attempting to have her ”exorcised”.

According to the woman, she was awakened in the beginning of June 2010 by her husband and a man dressed in black entering her bedroom.

Her husband tied her hands together, and held down her legs while the other man placed his hands on her head and proceeded to ”exorcise” her evil spirits.

However, the woman managed to conjure up powers she didn't know she had and free herself.

According to the paper, the “exorcist” later testified that he believed the woman was possessed by evil spirits and that he had been summoned by her husband to rid her of the spirits, something he has been doing for the last 18 years by placing a towel on the head of the afflicted and praying that the spirits leave.

However, he claimed that he never had a chance to start the procedure due to the woman's violent resistance.

He also told the court that the woman had threatened to call the police and had been shouting and acting aggressively, which he said was a tell-tale sign she was indeed possessed.

The husband had previously told police that he is frightened of his wife and that it is she who beats him. He has also told teachers at his children's school that he has a ”wild animal” at home.

However, the district court found no evidence corroborating the husband's story, and deemed the photographic evidence that the woman presented, of injuries she had allegedly sustained by her husband's beatings, to be credible.

The court also thought that there was reason to believe that the officiator of the "exorcism" procedure had personal reasons for denying the ceremony had taken place.

The husband was subsequently sentenced to prison and to pay his wife damages of 40,000 kronor ($5,800).

However, the appeals court in January felt that the bruises and injuries in the pictures presented by the woman could have been applied by make-up.

The court also ruled that with the differing accounts of what had taken place, it was impossible to determine exactly what had happened during the “exorcism” and the man was therefore acquitted of all charges, according to Skånskan.

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