Swede faces charges for child rape 24 years ago after ‘family DNA search’

Prosecutors have requested seven years' jail time for a man suspected of raping an eight-year-old in 1995, after a law change in how police can use DNA databases linked him to the crime scene.

Swede faces charges for child rape 24 years ago after 'family DNA search'
Prosecutor Thomas Ahlstrand speaking to a reporter after the trial. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

The eight-year-old girl had been cycling home from school when she was assaulted and raped by a man in a forest in Billdal, Gothenburg, in September 1995.

It was only earlier this year, 24 years after the crime took place, that the 58-year-old was detained on suspicion of the rape. This followed a so-called 'family search' in the police DNA register, linking him to DNA found on the girl's jumper at the time.

So-called 'family searches' in the police's DNA database were made possible after a law change that came into effect on January 1st this year. This means that DNA traces found at crime scenes can sometimes be used to track down close relatives of possible suspects, something police were previously unable to do.

Prosecutors requested that the man be sentenced to seven years in jail in the trial, which ended on Tuesday morning, and the ruling is expected on May 21st.

“The punishment for this type of crime is eight years, but then you need to do a deduction in relation to the time that has passed, and in previous cases it's been one year,” prosecutor Thomas Ahlstrand said to SVT Väst.

The man has denied the crime but was reticent during questioning and the trial itself.

In Sweden, the statute of limitations is 25 years for crimes on which a life sentence could be imposed.

READ ALSO: 'Sweden needs to do more to convict rapists': Amnesty report

Member comments

  1. Perhaps a note is in order here – unlike the USA, where DNA submitted by the user (eg genetic ancestry tests) or collected because of a criminal conviction, in Sweden, the DNA is collected at birth and you can’t opt out of it.

    Why didn’t TheLocal cover the law change? This is scary…

  2. Hej! No, that’s not quite right. You’re talking about the healthcare’s so-called PKU biobank, which keeps blood samples collected at birth (although you can ask to have your sample destroyed or anonymized) and which the police are generally not allowed to use.

    The DNA register referred to in this article is the police’s own DNA register, which is a DNA database of people who have been convicted of crimes for which the punishment was more serious than a fine. The law change applies to this register, not the PKU biobank.

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime