Swedish filmmakers face retrial after appeals court throws out verdict

A Swedish appeals court has thrown out a lower court's acquittal of two documentary filmmakers accused of violating the sanctity of the wreck of the Estonia ferry.

Swedish filmmakers face retrial after appeals court throws out verdict
The front section of the passenger ferry Estonia being lifted from the sea in 1994. Photo: AP Photo/Lehtikuva, Jaako Avikainen

The Estonia ferry sank in the Baltic Sea in 1994, killing 852 people in one of the 20th century’s worst maritime disasters.

After deciding not to salvage the wreck, Sweden, Estonia and Finland agreed in 1995 to designate it a final resting place and make it illegal to disturb the site.

In 2019, a film crew sent a remote-operated submersible to the ship while filming a documentary that aired the following year, revealing a massive hole in the ship’s hull and casting doubt on the findings of an official investigation into the sinking.

The Gothenburg district court found in February 2021 that the documentary’s director Henrik Evertsson and deep-sea analyst Linus Andersson – both Swedes – had committed actions punishable under the so-called “Estonia Law”.

However, it ruled they could not be held accountable since they were on a German-flagged ship in international waters at the time.

While several countries have signed on to the 1995 accord, Germany has not.

But the Göta Court of Appeal on Tuesday sent the case back to the lower court for a retrial. It argued that “the Estonia Law does apply” because the filmmakers are Swedish, even though the dives were conducted from a German boat.

The two could face a fine or up to two years in prison.

The original inquiry into the disaster concluded that it was caused by the bow door of the ship being wrenched open in heavy seas, allowing water to gush into the car deck.

Experts however told the filmmakers that only a massive external force would be strong enough to cause the rupture, raising questions about what really happened.

Survivors and relatives of those killed have fought for over two decades for a fuller investigation, though the countries involved have been reluctant to re-examine the issue.

Following the documentary, the laws banning dives were amended in order to allow a re-examination of the wreck.

In July 2021, Sweden and Estonia opened a fresh investigation.

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Sweden Democrat politician charged for dismembering colleague

The former politician has been charged on suspicion of murdering his colleague in an apartment south of Stockholm, after police found body parts in three different locations in the capital.

Sweden Democrat politician charged for dismembering colleague

According to the prosecution, the body parts found in plastic bags in central Stockholm came from a man in his 60s murdered in an apartment in Nyköping, south of Stockholm.

The man is said to have been killed by a pistol shot to the head, after which the 60-year-old charged with the murder dismembered the body.

The suspected murderer, who newspaper Expressen reports is a former Sweden Democrat politician, is said to have moved the body parts multiple times, eventually dumping them across the city.

In total, three body parts were found in two different locations – the Karlsberg canal and in the Djurgården park. Not all parts of the body have yet been found.

“We’ve carried out a comprehensive investigation into the victim and the suspect. We can, to some extent, show how and when the suspect moved the body parts,” prosecutor Marina Chirakova told TT.

The victim, who according to Expressen was also a former Sweden Democrat politician, had been friends with the suspected murderer for a number of years. Prosecutors did not comment on the motive behind the murder.

“That will be discussed in the main hearings,” she told TT.

The suspect was taken into custody in November last year after being arrested in Nyköping. He denies the charges, but accepts certain circumstances related to the case.

Upon his arrest, he resigned from his political obligations and his membership was frozen by the Sweden Democrats.

“I don’t want to comment on his stance on the charges or anything he has said,” she further told TT.

The murder is suspected to have taken place between August 30th and September 16th last year.