Retrial for man convicted in ‘shaken baby’ case

A father convicted of shaking his infant daughter to death has been granted a retrial by Sweden's Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) in a case that could result in a re-examination of other cases of "shaken baby syndrome".

The now 31-year-old man was first convicted in 2005 for shaking his six-week-old daughter so violently that she suffered from fatal cerebral haemorrhaging.

But in a decision issued on Tuesday, the Supreme Court cited new evidence indicating that the man’s daughter could have died from injuries caused by something other than violent shaking.

According to forensic medical expert Peter Krantz, who was quoted in the ruling, “today one can no longer rule out the possibility that the haemorrhaging in the meninges and injuries in the brain of this type can have other causes than bodily harm/shaking”.

The man was first sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter and aggravated assault. He lodged a number of appeals, with the Supreme Court rejecting a previous retrial request back in 2008.

However, the man fled from Sweden before he began serving his sentence, managing to stay on the run until being arrested in Spain in 2010.

He was imprisoned in Sweden until last autumn when he was released while the Supreme Court reviewed his latest appeal.

“He’s obviously very happy and relieved,” the man’s lawyer, Percy Bratt, told Sveriges Television (SVT) following Tuesday’s decision that his client had been granted a retrial.

Medical expert Krantz told SVT it’s possible the little girl’s death was a result of clotting related to her premature birth.

He added that the diagnosis of “shaken baby syndrome” can be affected by trends in medical diagnosis which shift over time.

“The risk is that people become a bit too liberal in their diagnoses,” he told SVT, adding that new thinking about the condition may result in more retrial requests.

“There may be parents in prison today who have been wrongly accused of causing their child’s death.”

The case will now be re-examined by the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden (Hovrätten för Västra Sverige).

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Malmö teen fined over graduation slut shaming

A Swedish school leaver has been ordered to pay 10,000 kronor ($1,112) in damages to a female pupil he described using a sexually explicit term inspired by Norwegian teen show Skam.

Malmö teen fined over graduation slut shaming
Swedish high school students hold graduation balls in May. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
The 19-year-old man pulled the girl up on stage to give her the “fuck-girl of the year” award in front of 100 fellow pupils, at an event in a Malmö restaurant. 
He defended his actions in court by arguing that the word was meant humorously and was intended to describe how popular the girl was, a little like calling her an “enchantress” or a “man-killer”. 
The court, however, said it was “far from convinced” by the explanation. 
“It must be obvious to each and everyone that the expression … has powerful negative connotations,” the judge Fredrik Landgren and his three lay judges ruled in their judgement, which has been seen by The Local. 
The male student also read out a poem which included several sexual insults, and played a sexually explicit song which the court stated “could hardly be interpreted as anything other than painting (the girl) as promiscuous”.
“You can't count on either your fingers or toes how many things have slid in between your thighs,” read one passage in the award citation. 
According to the victim, the audience had at first been uncertain how to react. 
“First it became silent, as if people were shocked that it was so severe,” she told the court. “Then he shouted out my name and called me up on stage. They put a sash around me and gave me a framed copy of the citation. People pointed and laughed. I felt completely humiliated.” 
At the trial, the 19-year-old insisted that he had not intended the award to be insulting, noting that it had come directly after a similar award for “fuck-boy of the year”. 
The school's headmaster backed him up on this, defending his decision not to report the boy at the time by describing how the award's male recipient had taken it as a badge of honour. 
The boy explained to the court that the male moniker had been taken from Skam, a popular television series about Norwegian teens, and so was an in-joke at the school, where the show had a cult following. 
When he had written the text, he added, he had not known which girl at the school would be given the award. 
In court, the boy's lawyer Natalie Medina pointed out that all pupils in the year had been sent an online poll in which they could nominate pupils for ten different accolades.
The plaintiff had therefore known that the award would be given when she attended the graduation event and may even have voted in the poll. 
Medina argued this constituted a sort of consent, but the court rejected this. 
“The court cannot see that [the plaintiff's] actual participation in the vote should lead to the conclusion that she consented to the crime in question,” it concluded. 
The 19-year-old was also ordered to pay a fine of 3,000 kronor.