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CRIME

Everything you need to know about the Swedish murder case that’s stranger than fiction

Fraud, forgery, bribery, threats, drowning and stabbings: it's not the work of fiction, but the details that have now emerged from a high-profile Swedish murder case. The Local picks apart the key allegations from the complicated "summer cottage murder" case.

Everything you need to know about the Swedish murder case that's stranger than fiction
The summer cottage at the centre of a complicated Swedish murder case. Photo: TT

In brief…

A woman and her now ex boyfriend have been charged with the murder of her father and attempted murder of her mother in the summer of 2016, while the woman has also been charged with the murder of her then husband a year before in 2015.

Additionally, she has been charged with fraud, forgery of documents, bribery and threatening a public servant. If it sounds complicated, that's because it is. So let's take it in stages…

The suspects

At the centre of the case is a 42-year-old woman who ran her own business, has six children, is trained as a social worker and has no previous convictions.

Also involved is her boyfriend, a man from Afghanistan who came to Sweden as a lone refugee from Iran in the autumn of 2015, although his lawyer confirmed a day before the charges were pressed that the pair have broken up. Though the man claims to be 19, the prosecution believes that is not true and that he is actually 25. 

Both have been remanded in custody since last September over what has been called the “summer cottage murder” (sommarstugemorden). The name comes from the scene where the alleged violent crimes took place, a summer cottage in Arboga, central Sweden.

It was there in August 2016 that the woman's father was killed in a stabbing, while her mother was seriously injured. Her former husband, meanwhile, was found drowned near the same cottage a year before.

READ ALSO: Two dead in eastern Sweden 'murder mystery'

Police initially treated the drowning as an accident, but flags were raised by an insurance company for reasons that will be explained below, and a public prosecutor decided to begin a preliminary investigation into suspected murder.

In November 2016 the drowned man's grave was opened in order to carry out a comprehensive forensic examination. The woman has now been charged with the murder of her then husband, either alone or with additional help.

A further 25-year-old man was also remanded in custody for being involved in the murder of the husband, and though still officially a suspect, he is no longer detained.


An aerial image of the crime scene. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The additional charges

The violent crimes that allegedly took place around the summer cottage are not the only incidents in the case.

The fraud charge relates to the woman's attempts to take out money from a life insurance policy less than a month after her former husband died in 2015. When asked by the insurance company if there was any reason to suspect that the death had been caused by another person, she said no. The woman had taken out the policy in her husband’s name, with herself as the beneficiary.

It doesn't stop there: it is also alleged that while she was remanded in custody the woman twice attempted to bribe a prison officer with 5,000 kronor in order to allow her to post a letter without it first being examined – hence the bribery charge.

In police questioning meanwhile, the women threatened two interviewers with assault.

“I hope the hospital has bought extra wheelchairs because there are a lot of people who are going to have their knees broken after this, everyone who hurts me,” a police transcript of questioning quotes her as saying. For that she has now been charged with threatening public servants.


Prosecutors answering questions about the case. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The evidence

Evidence used in the investigation includes knives, the blade of the knife believed to have been used as the murder weapon in the killing of the father, and letters. A book with notes has also been examined, as have telephone logs and text messages.

Material linked to the woman's financial situation, and information about the woman being reported for a sexual offence in her company – for which her business partner expressed a desire to end their work together – has also been used by the prosecution.

Last February, prior to the trial and after being remanded in custody for almost half a year, the woman's boyfriend admitted that he had helped murder her father with a knife.

“She instructed and directed the 25-year-old,” according to prosecutor Jessica Wenna.

The man claims that during the summer of 2016 his girlfriend had attempted on several occasions to get him to murder her parents, to which he said no, but on the day that the murder took place he was under the influence of drugs. 

The female suspect, who is said to have transported her boyfriend to and from the summer cottage in a car and handed him the knife, has denied all charges.

Among the evidence used by the prosecution is an interview with the woman's mother, who survived the attack and not only witnessed it, but also gave details about her daughter's relationship with money and the circumstances around the scene of the crime.

There is also information from several of the female suspect's children that she asked them to cast suspicion on someone else as well as lie about several things.

If the prosecution cannot prove that the woman carried out the murder herself, they will push for her to be convicted of instigating or being complicit in the acts by encouraging the now 19-year-old man to carry out a crime.

The prosecution also says there is information to suggest her boyfriend has killed before, and they want him to be deported and banned from returning to Sweden if he is convicted.


A different angle of the crime scene. Photo: TT 

The motive

The prosecutors argue that the woman’s motive for carrying out the violent crimes was financial. It can be proven that she made a first attempt to have her husband killed in 2014, they claim, and sought the help of three different people to do so.

Her husband is said to have left her at the start of 2015 and told a different woman he was previously married to that the female suspect could not support herself through her own salary.

The 42-year-old had financial problems and had been supported economically by her parents for several years according to the prosecution, who noted that she had higher expenses than income and relied on money from her family to maintain her lifestyle.

The life insurance policy she took out for her husband was worth two million kronor ($226,900). 

The trial will be held at Västmanland district court and begin on May 8th.

CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

READ ALSO: 

More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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