Top judge slammed over cannibal case stance

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Top judge slammed over cannibal case stance

Swedish Supreme Court judge Göran Lambertz is facing calls for his resignation over his stance in an ongoing debate about mismanagement in the case of once self-professed cannibal Thomas Quick, who has been acquitted of eight murders.


"Many of us judges are ashamed of Göran Lambertz," Anders Alenskär, chair of the courts section of the legal professionals union Jusek, told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
"We can no longer look on in silence when he continues to decimate confidence in Sweden's judges."
Alenskär labeled Lambertz "ignorant" and "unreliable", calling on him to leave the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolaen), where he has been a judge since 2009 after leaving his role as Sweden's Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekansler - JK).
In his previous role as Justice Chancellor, Lambertz was responsible for reviewing the work of investigators and prosecutors involved in Quick case, and concluded in 2006 that there was no reason to launch a probe into criminal negligence for how the case was handled.
Quick, who now goes by the name Sture Bergwall, was previously convicted of eight murders committed between 1976 and 1988.
During therapy he admitted to more than 20 killings committed in Sweden, Norway and Finland, often describing how he butchered his victims and in at least one case ate the body parts.
In December 2008, however, he suddenly withdrew all his confessions, saying he had been craving attention at the time and had been heavily medicated by doctors. He has since been cleared of all the killings, with the last conviction being overturned in July 2013.
While Quick has been acquitted of the crimes, he remains at the high-security Säter psychiatric hospital where he has been held for the last 20 years after he was put away for robbing a bank. However, in October a court ordered that his mental health be reassessed.
Recent developments have sparked a debate into what some believe will come to be the biggest legal scandal in Swedish history: that a man was wrongly convicted for eight killings that he didn't commit and that the hunt for the real killer or killers was cut short due to what turned out to be flimsy evidence and fabricated confessions.
Despite his position as a Supreme Court judge, Lambertz has been a vocal participant in the debate, defending his 2006 decision not to investigate the handling of the case, much to the frustration of other legal professionals and politicians.
"It's extremely unfortunate that he's speaking out on this issue because it's really about him trying to defend his own negligence when we was Chancellor of Justice and should have reviewed the convictions," Anne Ramberg, head of the Swedish Bar Association (Advokatsamfundet), told the TT news agency.
Morgan Johansson, the Social Democrat MP who heads the Riksdag's justice committee, fears that Lambertz is damaging the credibility of the Swedish legal system.
"If I were in his shoes I'd step aside," Johansson told Sveriges Radio (SR).
The recent media firestorm even prompted the Supreme Court's chief judge, Marianne Lundius, to have a word with Lambertz on Thursday.
"He's exercising his right to free speech and that's something every person does according to their own judgment; I can't pass judgment on that. However, I have spoken with Göran Lambertz today and told him that he should think about what effect this has on the Supreme Court and the legal system in general," she told TT.
She emphasized, however, that Lambertz was a "skilled judge" and that controversy surrounding the Quick case is no grounds for him to leave Sweden's highest court.
Lambertz made it clear he has no plans to resign from the Supreme Court, arguing that others have misunderstood his reaction to critics who call the Quick case a legal scandal.
"I don't think they've understood the most important aspect of my criticism, namely that it's unacceptable to label something that has been so important in Swedish legal history and that is so important in the light of history as a legal scandal if there's no support for the claim," he told TT.
"If it's proven without a doubt that an innocent man was convicted, that everything points to that and there is every reason to talk about a legal scandal, then I'll concede. But that's not going to happen."
"I'm simply doing what I think is right. Then I need to accept that some people think that's wrong. I'm totally sure I'm right, and I think people will realize that too."


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