Umeå rapist allowed to return to scene of crimes

Umeå rapist allowed to return to scene of crimes
Umeå District Court in northern Sweden. Photo: Rolf Höjer/SCANPIX
One of Sweden's most infamous serial rapists will be allowed to return to the area where he caused fear over the course of seven years when he is released this summer, a court ruled on Friday.

Niklas Lindgren, known in Sweden as 'The Haga Man' ('Hagamannen'), raped several women in the northern city of Umeå between 1999 and 2005. In two of the cases he also tried to kill his victims.

In 2006 he was locked up for 14 years. But after serving two-thirds of his punishment in jail he is set to be released on parole at the end of July.

Lindgren appealed a decision by a committee on the Swedish Prison and Probation Service which supervises criminals earlier this year, which stated he was not allowed to return to Umeå during his first year on parole.

The committee argued that the risk was too high he would reoffend.

But Umeå District Court tore up the decision on Friday, saying it would not be correct to geographically restrict Lindgren's parole because he was not deemed a threat to a specific woman.

In the case of Lindgren, he attacked and raped women not previously known to him and there was “no increased risk of [him] reoffending against these people,” said the court, which also argued geographical restriction would hinder his readaptation to society.

“I understand the court's reasoning and think it is an accurate assessment. There is no specific woman in the area concerned who is at greater risk, but all women no matter where they live, are at risk of the Haga Man,” former head prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem told Swedish newswire TT on Friday.

Lindgren raped five women between 1999 and 2005, causing widespread fear among residents in Umeå. He was also found guilty of trying to drown one of his victims, a 51-year-old woman, in the Umeå River in 2005 and trying to kill one of his victims in 1999.

A long and complex police investigation led to the arrest of the then 33-year-old father-of-two in March 2006. Police were able to link his DNA to a number of the rapes.