François, a 25-year-old French national living in Stockholm, was struck by a security guard in September 2015 outside a bar on Södermalm’s Medborgarplatsen square. With the help of CCTV footage and witness accounts, the guard who punched him was convicted of assault by the Stockholm district court in June.
The incident began when François went out to celebrate with his girlfriend and some colleagues from an internship. When his girlfriend was told to leave the premises, he followed to find out what had happened.
“I went outside to ask why she was being thrown out,” he explained.
“Though I don’t recall this detail, on the CCTV video you can see I still had a bottle in my hand. The security tried to tell me I had to go back inside, but there may have been a misunderstanding due to the difference between English and Swedish.”
Things soon took a turn for the worse. One of the security guards grabbed François from behind, which he says is the last thing he remembers.
“What happened next is on the video. The bouncer grabbed me, released me, then a few seconds later, he grabbed me again, before releasing me again. I moved two-three metres away, and a security guard from a nearby bar came to talk to me. We spoke for a few seconds and all of a sudden, one of the guards on my right punched me hard on the side of my face, and I fell, knocked-out on the ground.”
In the trial, the man who struck François accepted the details of the incident, but argued that he hit him in self-defence. The Stockholm district court verdict however said that there was no reason for the guard to feel threatened, and his claim of self-defence was dismissed as unfounded.
The victim says he still has no idea why he was struck.
“Nothing justified the punch. I just wanted to know why my girlfriend was thrown out,” François said.
“Perhaps a misunderstanding about the bottle upset them. But again, nothing justified the violent attack, the punch. The consequences could have been worse if a fragile person had been hit, my head could have hit something.”
Despite the traumatic incident, François says he still has a high opinion of Sweden.
“I still like Sweden as much as I used to. I am still here with my girlfriend, looking for a job and hoping to live here. This hasn’t changed my opinion on the country. It makes me more wary of security guards, but of course I don’t want to generalize that all are like that.”
The guard convicted of assault was sentenced to 50 hours’ community service by the Stockholm district court. Two other guards were acquitted of misconduct charges in the trial.
The prosecutor from the Stockholm branch of Sweden’s public prosecution office (Åklagarmyndigheten) has appealed the verdicts.
Article by Lee Roden and Marie Zafimehy.