The incident took place in Korpilombolo on Friday evening when a brawl broke out amongst a number of boys at the asylum housing centre. A boy was hit in the face, fell backwards and could not be revived with police saying his death was likely caused by a fatal impact to his head caused by the fall.
Previous reports suggested that the victim had been involved in the fight but it's now understood he happened to chance upon the brawl. The TT news agency reports that there were eight boys aged between 13 – 15 years of age sharing the accommodation.
"He may have got between them and received a few blows and then fell to the ground where he hit his head," said superintendent Johan Claesson who is leading the investigation.
When the fight broke out social services were called to calm down the situation but matters got out of hand after midnight when the fighting resumed and led to the teenager's death.
Another 13-year-old was suspected of causing the death and was handed over to social services. He was initially held on suspicion of manslaughter but is now suspected of assault and manslaughter.
"We have spoken to witnesses and classified it. He is under 15 and below the age of criminal responsibility," said Tomas Schäufele of the Norbotten police to TT.
The chairman of the municipal executive board in Pajala, where Korpilombolo is located, was asked by reporters why the death occurred despite the presence of six adult members of social services at the asylum housing.
"It was a sudden incident. It happened very fast," said Kurt Wennberg who added that he didn't want to speculate if language confusion among the boys from different countries was a contributory factor.
As the suspect is under the age of criminal responsiblity he will be taken into social care while the investigation continues. The remaining boys living in the asylum housing will be temporarily moved to another location while the police carry out technical examinations of the crime scene.
The Pajala municipality is one of 240 out of 290 Swedish municipalities hosting unaccompanied minors under legislation passed by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).
A new bill, which comes into force next year, is set to bring the remaining 50 municipalities into line and will allow underage asylum seekers who come to Sweden without parents or guardians to reside in the country.
In 2005, Sweden received about 500 applications from underage asylum seekers. For 2013, the authorities estimate that they will process 4,000 cases in total.
An autopsy is currently under way to determine the cause of death.