Eight charged over shooting at Gothenburg restaurant

Eight men are to stand trial over an attack at a restaurant in a Gothenburg suburb last spring that left two people dead in one of the most high-profile shootings in Sweden in recent years.

Eight charged over shooting at Gothenburg restaurant
People leaving flowers at the scene of the fatal shooting last year. Photo: TT

Two people were shot dead and eight others were injured in the shooting at a restaurant in Biskopsgården in March 2015, in an attack that grabbed global headlines and saw Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven cut short a trip to Brussels to meet mourning residents.

More than a year later, eight people aged 19-28 are facing trial. Five have been charged with murder or attempted murder, while another three have been prosecuted for aiding and abetting.

At a press conference on Friday, the prosecutor described the scenes at the bar in the Vårväderstorget square in Gothenburg suburb Biskopsgården, where customers had gathered to watch football on television on March 18th when gunmen burst in firing automatic weapons.

“What happens is that a car arrives at the back of the restaurant, with three masked and armed men. Two of the perpetrators rush in and open fire, a third stands watch outside the bar,” said prosecutor Niklas Högdén.

“One of those running inside has a yellow reflective vest marked 'police'. One person is shot dead, on the way out another is shot dead, and the perpetrators escape (…) to the car.”

Police thanked residents in the area for helping them net the suspects, three of whom were seized the day after the shooting, carrying large quantities of automatic weapons in their car, reported Swedish media.

“There are obviously a lot of relatives feeling great sorrow and regret. I think that you could spare a thought for them on a day like this. In this investigation there are only losers and no winners,” said police chief investigator Robert Karlsson.

“This would not have been doable without the most important player, the people who live in these parts. We have been helped in a way we've never before experienced,” he said.

The shooting sparked a debate about gang violence in Sweden's second-biggest city, which has a long history of gang-related violence dating back to the early 1990s.

Amir Rostami, a leading authority on Sweden's organized crime groups, who is based at Stockholm University, told The Local at the time that organized crime remained a persistent problem.

“Today, the gang environment is… I don't want to exactly call it the Wild West, but something in that direction,” he said.

“Some years ago, it used to be very strong groups controlling the criminal world, but today we've got more and a lot smaller groups fighting for control of their areas – and that has increased the number of conflicts we see between groups and individuals.”

All eight deny the allegations. The trial starts on May 16th.