Sweden attack suspect denied request for Sunni Muslim lawyer

Sweden attack suspect denied request for Sunni Muslim lawyer
Drottninggatan the morning after the attack. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
The prime suspect in the Stockholm truck has demanded that his state-appointed lawyer be replaced with a Sunni Muslim – a request that was refused, according to official court documents.

Rakhmat Akilov, a 39-year-old Uzbek national believed to have symphathized with jihadist groups, is being held on suspicion of driving a stolen truck into pedestrians on a busy street in central Stockholm before it crashed into a department store. Four people were killed and 15 others injured.

Akilov, a construction worker who had been refused permanent residency in Sweden, was arrested several hours after the attack in Märsta, a suburb around 40 kilometres north of central Stockholm.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a court document seen by AFP, Akilov's state-appointed lawyer Johan Eriksson said his client had asked him to “relieve himself of his mission”, saying he “expressly wanted to be defended by a Sunni Muslim”.

Akilov had argued that “only a lawyer of this faith could assert his interests in the best way”, the statement said.

But judge Malou Lindblom dismissed the request “for lack of sufficient reasons”, in a written decision sent to AFP.

Akilov was due to appear in court at 10am on Tuesday for a magistrate to decide whether to remand him in custody.

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