Tension on first day of trial into Gothenburg shooting

UPDATED: The trial into one of the most high-profile shootings in Sweden in recent years got under way on Monday.

Tension on first day of trial into Gothenburg shooting
The judge and lay judges at Gothenburg District Court. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Eight men, aged 19-28, are standing trial over the shooting at a restaurant in Gothenburg's Biskopsgården suburb in March 2015, an attack which grabbed global headlines and saw Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven cut short a trip to Brussels to meet mourning residents.

Five are charged with murder or attempted murder, while another three are accused of aiding and abetting.

The mood was tense as the trial began on Monday morning, with police positioned outside Gothenburg's district court.

“There is no known threats against the trial. But considering the incident, and that there are a lot of emotions bubbling up when the trial begins, we are of course keeping an eye on it,” a police spokesperson told the TT newswire.

Surveillance camera footage from the restaurant shooting. Photo: Polisen/via TT

The gunmen burst in firing automatic weapons, killing two, when customers at the bar in the Vårväderstorget square in Sweden's second-biggest city had gathered to watch football last spring, a Champions League game.

The prosecutor argues that everyone in the restaurant, customers as well as staff, risked being hit by the bullets. Even those 16 people who survived without physical injuries should be considered victims, and have been called to take the stand over the course of the trial.

Around 30 witnesses in total, including police and members of the public, are also set to testify.

On the first day of the trial, the prosecutor showed pictures of the restaurant after the attack, describing blood stains and 28 empty shells found on the scene.

The trial is expected to take around two months. All eight defendants deny the allegations.

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.”