The Göta Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision in December in which the older of the two boys, who was 16 at the time of the attack, was found guilty of aggravated assault and abuse, but not murder. The lower court sentenced the now 17-year-old to five months in youth psychiatric care, a ruling that was upheld on Friday.
Unlike the previous court decision, however, the Göta Court of Appeals ruled that the younger boy, who was 14 at the time of the attack, also committed aggravated assault. Because of his age, however, the younger boy, now 15, faces no punishment for his role in the attack.
The two boys beat Gheorge Hortolomei-Lupu, a Romanian known locally as ‘Gica’, to death last autumn in a Huskvarna park after harassing him over an extended period of time. They kicked him repeatedly and threw objects at him while filming their actions. Videos of the attack reportedly circulated on social media.
The victim’s body was not found until a week after the attack and it was only during the autopsy that it was discovered that he had died of internal bleeding. A police investigation was then opened, which led to the arrest of the older teenager.
In its decision, the district court had determined that it could not be definitively ruled out that something else may have contributed to his death.
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The appeals court disagreed, saying that there was no doubt that Gica’s death was a result of the attack. The court found, however, that that the young assailants did not realize the victim could die from their attack.
“The violence was not of the type that typically leads to death,” judge Charlotta Riberdahl said at a press conference following the ruling.
The court also determined that the homeless victim’s generally poor health was also a likely contributor to his death. Additionally, it ruled that the victim’s relatives would not receive any restitution from the assailants.
“It is no secret that my client is satisfied with the Court of Appeals ruling,” Anders Tolke, the laywer for the now 17-year-old, said.
Gica came to Sweden roughly four years ago from a town near Bacau in Romania, according to people who knew him. He reportedly lost his job at a printing company and got divorced shortly thereafter. He left Romania and spent time in several other EU countries before settling in Sweden.
He worked in the Jönköping-Huskvarna area as a fruit picker for a while before becoming a bottle collector and full-time beggar. He was involved in a local aid group that helped other homeless EU migrants in Sweden, but his health had taken a serious turn in the months before his death. His friends remembered him as a man who was “friendly, grateful and kind”.