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Swedish appeals court overturns controversial assault ruling

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Swedish appeals court overturns controversial assault ruling
The Local first wrote about the ruling in March. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT & screenshots
11:50 CET+01:00
A Swedish appeals court on Wednesday overturned a controversial assault ruling that sparked heated debate about Sweden's legal system after The Local broke the story earlier this year.

Svea Court of Appeals threw out the verdict by Solna District Court, which in February acquitted a man of an assault against his partner. The original ruling 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" to get an apartment and that the man "seemed to come from a good family" unlike the woman.

The acquittal, pushed through by two lay judges on a split court where the professional judge and a third lay judge argued for a guilty verdict, also sparked debate about Sweden's politically appointed lay judges and prompted an investigation by the parliamentary ombudsman (justitieombudsmannen, JO).

READ ALSO: What role do lay judges play in Sweden?

But on Wednesday the appeals court instead found the man guilty of assault and sentenced him to three months in jail. It also ordered him to pay damages of 14,400 kronor ($1,575) to the woman.

The appeals court said in a judgment seen by The Local that it found the woman's story credible, detailed and supported by other evidence, such as doctor's notes and photographs of injuries.

In addition, and in contrast to the original verdict, it stated that the personal background of a person heard in court should not in itself be used to assess the strength or credibility of their testimony.

"It is for example out of the question to place more or less importance on a certain statement because the person comes from a certain family or group in society," said the appeals court.

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