‘Facebook rape video’ trial begins in Uppsala

'Facebook rape video' trial begins in Uppsala
Prosecutor Pontus Melander and several media at Uppsala District Court. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
The trial of three men in Sweden charged in connection with the alleged rape of a woman in an Uppsala apartment which witnesses said was live streamed on Facebook has got under way.

The men were arrested in January after police were alerted to a suspected ongoing sexual assault by witnesses, who reported seeing it live in a closed Facebook group.

Two of the men, a 20-year-old Afghan national and an 18-year-old also from Afghanistan, are charged with rape. The third man, a 24-year-old Swedish citizen, is charged with aiding alternatively failing to reveal rape. He is also charged with defamation, over the filming and live-streaming of the incident.

All three deny the charges. The two younger suspects admit having sex with the woman, who is in her thirties, but deny raping her.

“He admits that there has been sexual contact between him and the plaintiff. However, it happened an hour before this Facebook film. So it was a completely different scenario,” said the 21-year-old's lawyer Stefan Wallin to reporters gathered outside the courtroom before the trial started.

Investigators have been able to acquire images and video material, but not the full Facebook video. There are however witnesses who say they saw the entire incident or part of it and deputy chief prosecutor Magnus Berggren told TT that they expect to shortly receive the video from Facebook.

Eight witnesses questioned ahead of the trial described the woman as more or less unconscious. There was “no life in her at all” and “she did not move a muscle” said two of them.

According to the preliminary investigation, the woman, who is in her thirties, only understood what had happened when an acquaintance who had seen the broadcast called her. She has told police interrogations that she neither remembers having sex nor agreeing to have sex.

Prosecutor Pontus Melander argues that the woman was under the influence of alcohol and therefore considered by Swedish law to have been in a particularly vulnerable situation,

He has urged the court to deport the two men who are not Swedish citizens and ban them from returning for 15 years. The woman's legal counsel has also asked the court to order the two men accused of rape to pay the woman 115,000 kronor ($13,000) each in damages, and the third man to pay her 165,000 kronor.

The rest of the trial will be held behind closed doors, because of the sensitive nature of the case and because one of the suspects is younger than 21. The trial continues.