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New trial to start over 8-year-old's death

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New trial to start over 8-year-old's death
Photo: TT
13:38 CEST+02:00
An appeal gets underway on Monday in the case of 8-year-old Yara Alnajjar, a girl from Gaza who was beaten to death in Sweden last year. A female guardian was charged with murder while the girl's uncle received a lesser sentence.

Yara’s uncle and his wife had been charged with caring for the young girl from Gaza, who had been sent to Sweden by her parents in February 2013. However, a district court found that instead of ensuring her safety and meeting her needs, her female guardian beat her to death with a rolling pin, inflicting wounds all over her body on Walpurgis Night, April 30, in Karlskrona.

Her uncle, who was present, did nothing to intervene.

In February, the 31-year-old woman was given a life sentence for the murder while her 32-year-old husband, Yara’s uncle, received a six-year sentence for serious assault and manslaughter.

But now an appeals court will examine those sentences again, especially that of the uncle, who many feel got off too lightly.

“This is a very difficult case, I can tell you,” Chief Prosecutor Pernilla Åström told the TT news agency. “Partly due to the psychological aspect – it’s a terrible thing that happened and you are always thinking about what her family is going through.”

“But this is also a special legal situation,” she continued. “Because the matter of having guardianship [over the child] makes it a very unusual case.”

Åström would like the appeals court to decide if the uncle’s passivity during the abuse which led to Yara’s death is serious enough to merit a murder conviction for him as well.

At the same time, both defendants are maintaining their innocence, and have appealed their sentences.

“I think that we can shed some more light on the situation when we know a few more details,” said Christer Holmqvist, the uncle’s lawyer.

Despite the new trial and investigation in a case that dominated headlines for much of last year and led to investigations into why authorities did not see or act on signs of abuse, many observers say it might never come to light why exactly Yara was murdered, despite much speculation in the media.

“I haven’t yet seen anything that indicates we might find that out,” said Åström. “There is never a requirement that we prove a motive, even though a lot of people want to know what it could have been.”

The appeals trial begins on Monday and will continue until April 28.

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