The 52-year-old man, who is a respected researcher at the Karolinska Institute north of Stockholm, attacked his wife in May at their home south of the city, and has since confessed to the crime to police.
In a fit of jealousy over suspicions that his wife had taken a lover, the man straddled his wife while she was sleeping and sliced off her lower lip with a scalpel.
On the first day of the trial, which began on Tuesday at the Södertörn District Court, the man appeared at ease, staring intently at his 32-year-old wife, according to an account in the Expressen newspaper.
The woman, who was wearing sunglasses and a blue surgical mask to hide her injuries, did her best to avoid her husband’s gaze.
As the trial got under way, prosecutor Jakob Holmberg predicted the man’s punishment will be severe.
“The evidence is completely sufficient for a conviction. My assessment is that this will be on the higher end of the punishment scale,” he told the TT news agency.
The 32-year-old woman met the professor in Iran, where he helped her come to Sweden to study at Karolinska.
It was during this time that the man fell in love with the woman, leaving his then-wife to marry her.
“I would say he persuaded her to marry him. She went with it as she felt indebted to him for the help,” Holmberg said.
The woman’s family even encouraged her to marry the professor, telling her that she could learn to love him eventually.
However, it only took six months before she wanted a divorce. But the 52-year-old told her they would be together until death, according to the prosecutor.
On the night of the attack, the woman had just returned from a trip, telling her husband again that she wanted a divorce. While she had been away, the man had slashed up photographs of his wife in a jealous rage, according to Holmberg.
After falling asleep, the woman awoke to find her husband sitting on top of her.
“Has your boyfriend slept in our bed?” he asked, according Expressen.
When she said no, the professor interpreted this as a confession that she did indeed have a boyfriend.
He then brandished a scalpel and readied himself to attack his wife.
In the ensuing fight, the woman managed to get the scalpel out of her husband’s hands.
But the 52-year-old professor had made extra preparations, having hidden a spare scalpel under his pillow which he then used to carry out the attack.
“This is your lip – now I am going to eat it so that you can’t sew it back on,” said the man after cutting off his wife’s lower lip.
It remains unclear if the 52-year-old actually ate the appendage, as the woman explained in court that she has no memory of it, although she told investigators previously that she had seem him “chewing on it”.
The professor’s lawyer explained in court that the woman’s talk of divorce had caused the husband to “act desperately”, claiming that he was “not in his right mind”.
The 52-year-old has been charged with aggravated assault, rather than attempted murder, as he never intended to kill his wife.
The 32-year-old woman spend six days in hospital after having her lip cut off.
“I’ve felt incredibly awful since the attack,” she said, according to Expressen.