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Frenchman at centre of Swedish Academy scandal remanded pending verdict

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Frenchman at centre of Swedish Academy scandal remanded pending verdict
Jean-Claude Arnault at Stockholm District Court on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
14:00 CEST+02:00
Jean-Claude Arnault, the man at the centre of rape charges that prompted the Swedish Academy to postpone the Nobel Literature Prize, has been remanded in custody pending sentencing.

The 72-year-old Frenchman was an influential figure on Stockholm's cultural scene for decades, until sexual assault accusations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked a wave of similar allegations around the world.

Last week he appeared in court to face charges relating to two counts of rape of the same woman in 2011 – allegations which he still denies. When the trial ended on Monday, Stockholm District Court granted the prosecutor's request to have him remanded pending the final verdict.

The decision means it is likely the court will find him guilty of at least one instance of rape.

"It is of course not good and we are disappointed. It indicates that he will be convicted of one of these deeds, probably the first one," Arnault's lawyer, Björn Hurtig, told public broadcaster SVT.

The trial heard that Arnault forced the victim – who was in a state of "intense fear" – to have oral sex and intercourse in a Stockholm apartment on October 5th, 2011. He is also accused of raping her during the night of December 2nd-3rd while she was asleep.

The verdict and sentence will be announced on October 1st.

Married to Katarina Frostenson, a member of the Swedish Academy, Arnault ran the Forum club in Stockholm, a key meeting place for the cultural elite and a popular spot among aspiring young authors hoping to make contact with publishers and writers.

One month after the rape and sexual abuse accusations against Weinstein, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter in November 2017 published testimonies of 18 women claiming to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by Arnault.

The scandal rocked the Swedish Academy due to its long-standing and close ties to Arnault, who occasionally boasted about being the "19th member" of the institution.

An internal investigation by the Academy found that several members, as well as wives and daughters of members, had also experienced "unwanted intimacy" from the accused.

However, disagreements on how to deal with the accusations sowed deep discord among members.

Six of them resigned or took a hiatus in the wake of the row, including its first female permanent secretary Sara Danius, while the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize has been postponed until 2019 as the Academy tries to rebuild.

It is expected to select new members in the coming months to, among other things, read the works of dozens of authors and select two Nobel laureates – one for 2018 and another for 2019.

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