Three members of Knutby sect face charges 15 years after trial that shook a nation

Three people face charges for assault and sexual exploitation in connection with a parish in the small Swedish town of Knutby that was at the centre of one of the country's best-known murder cases.

Three members of Knutby sect face charges 15 years after trial that shook a nation
The town of Knutby became infamous in Sweden after a brutal murder that took place within the congregation. File photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

All three people now facing charges were pastors in the Knutby congregation north of Uppsala, which was described by prosecutors as “almost sect-like”.

One of them, Åsa Waldau, was known as the 'Bride of Christ' and was one of the congregation's most prominent members.

The charges are of assault and sexual exploitation of people in a position of dependence, although Waldau is not suspected of any sexual crimes. They relate to alleged crimes which occurred in 2015, and there are eight plaintiffs in the case. 

Further information will be presented about the case on Wednesday, when it will be submitted to Uppsala District Court, according to a statement from the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

The congregation was at the centre of a well-known murder case 15 years ago, when pastor Helge Fossmo's wife was found shot dead in her home and her neighbour shot and seriously injured.

The family's nanny, Sara Svensson, confessed to the killing and was sentenced to closed psychiatric care, while Fossmo, who it emerged had manipulated the nanny and encouraged her to carry out the attacks, was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.

Svensson was released from care but Fossmo remains in jail. The Knutby congregation meanwhile was closed down in 2018.

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Attacker ‘severely disturbed’ during stabbing at Swedish political festival

Theodor Engström, the 33-year-old man who stabbed psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren to death at the Almedalen political festival in July, was seriously psychiatrically disturbed at the time of his attack, forensic psychiatrists have ruled.

Attacker 'severely disturbed' during stabbing at Swedish political festival

According to the Hela Gotland newspaper the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine has ruled that the man was so disturbed at the time of his attack he had lost the ability to understand the consequences of his actions, and has as a result recommended that he be given psychiatric treatment rather than a prison term.

The agency said that Engström had still been disturbed at the time he was given psychiatric assessment, and warned that there was a risk that Engström would commit further criminal acts. 

“This is a question which has relevance at a future stage,” said prosecutor Henrik Olin. “It means he cannot be sentenced to jail, but will instead receive psychiatric care. But it is not going to change how the investigation is carried out.” 

READ ALSO: What do we know about the Almedalen knife attack?

Engström stabbed Wieselgren, who worked as psychiatric coordinator for the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, as she was on the way to take part on a discussion at the Almedalen political festival. She died in hospital later that day. 

Engström has admitted to carrying out the attack, telling police that he intended to make a protest against the state of psychiatric healthcare in Sweden.