Dressing like Hitler not a crime: Swedish court
7 Mar 2013, 17:20
Published: 07 Mar 2013 17:20 GMT+01:00
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The man was sporting an armband with a swastika, a dark suit, and a toothbrush moustache when he turned up at a costume party at a pub in Jönköping in south central Sweden in November 2012.
The man admitted wearing the swastika-armband, but denied doing so constituted racial agitation (hets mot folkgrupp).
The Jönköping District Court agreed, finding the man had no intention of appearing threatening or disrespectful in dressing up to look like the Nazi leader.
The man's lawyer had expected her client to be acquitted of the charges.
"My client went to a costume party and the point wasn't to express some political or other view, rather it was simply to represent a Nazi," lawyer Mats Erfors told the TT news agency.
"He wasn't walking around the city with a swastika."
In its ruling, the court described how the man only dressed as Hitler after drawing the short straw among friends and thus being assigned the role as opposed to choosing it himself.
The man's choice of costume, therefore, in no way indicates he sympathizes with the Nazis or their ideology, the court wrote.
The ruling clearly differs from other cases in which people have been convicted of hate crimes for performing Nazi salutes in public.
In 2011, a man from Småland in southern Sweden was fined for making Nazi salutes and shouting "Heil Hitler" outside a restaurant in Växsjö.
Earlier that same year, a 16-year-old boy from Västra Götaland in southwest Sweden was also found guilty of the same offence after he was caught making gestures in a McDonald's restaurant.
In those cases and others, people bearing Nazi-inspired clothing and shouting slogans had clearly expressed their support for Nazi ideology, the court wrote.
However, the 24-year-old was convicted of weapons crimes for having a shotgun and stun gun in his apartment.