Swedish summer cottage murder trial: the sentence

A Swedish district court has locked a woman up for life and sentenced her ex-boyfriend to 14 years in jail in connection with one of the strangest murder cases in the Nordic country.

Swedish summer cottage murder trial: the sentence
Johanna Möller and Mohammad Rajabi in court. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Västmanland District Court sentenced Johanna Möller, 42, to life in prison on Monday for murdering her father, attempting to murder her mother, and instigating the suspected murder of her ex-husband.

Her younger ex-boyfriend, Mohammad Rajabi, was sentenced to 14 years in prison over the murder and attempted murder of Möller's parents.

The pair have both been remanded in custody since last September over what has been called the “summer cottage murders” in Swedish media. The name comes from the scene where the crimes took place, a summer house in Arboga, central Sweden.

It was there in August 2016 that Möller'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 – a drowning which was treated as an accident at the time.

Other charges of which the district court also found Möller guilty include: instigating aggravated assault, gross fraud, attempted gross fraud, falsification of documents, bribery, and threatening a public servant, according to the verdict seen by The Local.

The fraud charge relates to her attempts to take out money from a life insurance policy less than a month after her former husband died in 2015. She also tried to bribe a prison officer to allow her to post a letter without it first being examined. In police questioning meanwhile, she threatened interviewers with assault.

The summer house near Arboga. Photo: TT

Möller's ex-boyfriend Rajabi (they broke up before the trial started), a man from Afghanistan who came to Sweden as a lone refugee from Iran in autumn 2015, had already admitted the murder and attempted murder of her parents, saying Möller gave him the knife.

Rajabi's age had been a point of contention during the trial, as a person aged under 21 cannot be sentenced to life in prison in Sweden. Swedish medical experts were unable to confirm if he was younger than 21, but documents from Iranian authorities eventually showed he was 20 at the time of the murder.

The court also handed him a deportation order, banning him from returning to Sweden.

Möller denied all allegations throughout the trial, but the court based its verdict on several factors, including telephone logs, text messages, letters and witness statements including from her mother and children. The court said it had found no reason to doubt Rajabi's version of events regarding the attack on Möller's parents.

“Möller's involvement was so great and so decisive that she should, like Mohammad Rajabi, be considered a perpetrator and not an instigator or complicit,” read the verdict.

The investigation into the death of Möller's ex-husband, which involves some of her relatives, continues. It has not been established how, or where, his alleged murder was committed, but the court said it was impossible to believe it was an accident or suicide.

Möller's lawyer said they would appeal the sentence. Rajabi's lawyer said he did not yet know whether or not his client wanted to appeal, but said he would defend him again if so.

“She (Möller) is the brain behind the whole thing, he has not planned anything,” his lawyer Lars Jähresten told Swedish news agency TT.


Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.