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Appeals court expected to overturn controversial assault ruling

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Appeals court expected to overturn controversial assault ruling
The Local first wrote about the ruling in March. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT & screenshots
13:09 CEST+02:00
A controversial assault ruling that sparked debate in Sweden about its legal system looks set to be thrown out by the appeals court, which is still deliberating the man's sentence.

Solna District Court acquitted a man of an alleged assault against his wife. The wording of the ruling, first revealed by The Local in March this year, was heavily criticized at the time because it was based on factors such as it "not being uncommon for a woman to falsely claim they have been assaulted" in order to get an apartment and that the man "seemed to come from a good family" in contrast to his wife.

But the Svea Court of Appeals is now expected to overturn the verdict, writes Metro

A final verdict has not yet been announced, a court official told The Local, but a court document seen by our reporters states that the man, who denies the charge, has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Such an evaluation may only be carried out if the accused has pleaded guilty or if "convincing evidence" has been put forward in court to prove his guilt, according to Swedish law, which means that the appeals court is set to overturn the verdict. A final decision will be announced after the psychiatric evaluation.

"Both the plaintiff and I view it as positive that the court of appeal has made a different assessment than the district court," the woman's lawyer Amana Ayob Landin told Metro.

The original ruling by Solna District Court was made by two lay judges who pushed for an acquittal while the professional judge and a third lay judge argued for a guilty verdict. The controversial decision sparked debate about Sweden's politically appointed lay judges, with some calling for a change to the court system.

The two lay judges were both expelled by the Centre Party – who appointed them to the positions – shortly after The Local revealed the verdict. One of them was also suspended from her role as a lay judge by Solna District Court, a decision which she appealed. The other lay judge left his position voluntarily.

They both rejected criticism of them, with one claiming that the written judgement differed from the one they had communicated. The presiding judge, who wrote the judgement, insisted however that she wrote "what I perceived they had put forward as the basis for their conclusions".

An investigation by Sweden's parliamentary ombudsman (justitieombudsmannen, JO) did not find that the verdict had been based on reasons that were not communicated, but criticized the presiding judge for not going through the final, written jugdment with the lay judges (which is not common procedure in Sweden). 

 
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