Sweden’s self-described witch hunter caught

The 38-year-old man who escaped from psychiatric care in Sweden after being locked up for a "witch hunt" plot to kill his brother-in-law and 56 other people has been arrested.

Sweden's self-described witch hunter caught
The man planned to kill and burn his brother-in-law. Photo: AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky

The man had been in psychiatric care in Hässleholm since February, but from the summer onwards he was allowed to walk freely within hospital grounds for 15 minutes at a time, despite the prosecutor's objection.

“In my opinion he is dangerous, it is too early to grant him leave,” said prosecutor Lisa Åberg.

He escaped on Tuesday afternoon last week and travelled south to Malmö, where he was spotted and seized at lunchtime on Wednesday. He is now being taken back to the psychiatric ward he escaped from. 

“He has been found and is on his way back to Hässleholm,” Anders Lindskog of Malmö police confirmed.

According to Sydsvenskan the man had been looking for his ex-wife, who is living under protected identity.

The man, who was first arrested outside his brother-in-law's home in Malmö last autumn, was convicted in February after he confessed to a plan to kidnap, tie up, decapitate and burn the other man. He was locked up in a psychiatric facility for offenders after an examination showed he suffered from a mental disorder.

He told the trial that he had been on a “witch hunt”, insisting that Swedish authorities were on his side. On his computer police discovered a list of 56 other people for whom he had similarly grim plans.

“I am God's judge. I point the finger and say who's guilty,” he said in court at the time.

The sentence followed another conviction from earlier in 2015, when he was given four months in jail for assaulting his ex-wife and son. She said during that trial that the man had first accused her of witchcraft and magic in 2010. He also accused her of inflicting miscarriage and diabetes on relatives through mind control.

On Monday a relative of the ex-wife told regional newspaper Sydsvenskan that they had gone into hiding.

“We are scared to death. We're at home in our apartments all of us and do not dare go outside.”

“Today he looked for his ex-wife at her workplace,” said the relative, who added that they did not understand why he had not been caught at the time. “Malmö is a small city, he has been at the workplace and others have seen him.”

Malmö police told the newspaper that they were aware of the case but had limited resources.

“We have received the file and we have a group working during the day on searching for wanted people. But unfortuntately it is the case that if we can't find people at their home addresses it's not that easy,” said police spokesperson Daniel Jonasson.