Swedish terror attacker sentenced to psychiatric care

A court has sentenced the far-right extremist Theodor Engström to psychiatric care for the knife attack he carried out at the Almedalen political festival this summer.

Swedish terror attacker sentenced to psychiatric care
Theodor Engström when he was led away at the end of the trial on November 9th. Photo: Tim Aro/TT

The Gotland district court found the 33-year-old Engström guilty of murdering the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren, but did not agree that the murder counted as a terror attack.

It did find him guilty, however, of “planning a terror attack”, for his preparations to murder the Centre Party’s leader, Annie Lööf. 

“The murdered woman had a significant role [in society], a murder is always serious, and this had consequences both for Almedalen Week and for society more broadly,” the judge Per Sundberg, said at a press conference. 

The judge Per Sundberg announces the sentence on Theodor Engström on December 6th. Photo: Karl Melander/TT

But he said that the court judged that Sweden’s terror legislation was too restrictively drafted for her murder to count as a terror offence. 

“Despite Ing-Marie Wieselgren’s well-attested position within psychiatry, the court considers that her position as national coordinator at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions is not such that her murder can in itself be considered to have damaged Sweden. The act cannot as a result be classified as a terrorist crime on those grounds.” 

The court ruled that Engström’s crimes deserved Sweden’s most severe sentence, a life sentence in prison, but found that due to his disturbed mental state he should instead receive “psychiatric care with a special test for release”. 

In its judgement, the court said that an examination by forensic psychiatrists had found both that there were “medical reasons” why Engström should be transferred into a closed psychiatric facility and that “his insight into the meaning of his actions and his ability to adjust his actions according to such insight were at the very least severely diminished”. 

It said that under Swedish law, a court could send someone to prison who was in need of psychiatric care only if there were “special reasons” to do so. 

“The court considers that it has not been shown that Theodor Engström’s need of psychiatric care is so limited that there is a special reason for a prison sentence,” it ruled. 

Lööf wrote on Instagram that the judgement was “a relief”. 

“For me personally, it was a relief when the judgement came,” she wrote. “Engström has also been judged guilty of ‘preparation for a terror attack through preparation for murder’. This means that the the court is taking the threat towards democracy and towards politicians as extremely serious.”

The fact that the court has decided that Engström’s care should have a “special test for release” means that he cannot be discharged from the closed psychiatric hospital or ward where he is treated without a court decision. 

The court must rule both that the mental disorder that led to the crime has abated to the extent that there is no risk of further crimes, and that he has no other mental disorders that might require compulsory psychiatric care. The care has to be reassessed every six months. 

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Swedish Security Service warn of increase in terror threats against Sweden

Sweden is the target of an increased number of threats against the country following a far-right activist’s burning of the Koran in Stockholm, said Säpo, the Swedish Security Service, in a statement.

Swedish Security Service warn of increase in terror threats against Sweden

“Recent developments with threats directed at Sweden and Swedish interests is serious and affect Sweden’s security. The security service is seeing an increase in the number of threats of attack in our intelligence flow,” read a statement by Säpo on Wednesday.

It comes two days after the US embassy advised its citizens in Sweden to use caution in busy public venues, gathering sites such as places of worship, and diplomatic facilities, warning of possible terror attacks in retaliation of the recent Koran burning incident.

Far-right extremist Rasmus Paludan last month burned the holy book of Islam outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, causing Turkey to suspend Nato talks with Sweden and Finland, and causing outrage and demonstrations in many Muslim countries.


The relationship between Sweden and Turkey was already frosty after a pro-Kurdish group hanged an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Säpo said that the reactions after, among other things, the Koran burning, had been “significant” – especially in light of deteriorating global security and incidents such as last year’s disinformation campaign against the Swedish social services.

It said it considered Sweden to be “in greater focus than before for global violent Islamism”, adding that “the situation after recent events is problematic”.

Sweden’s terror threat level remains at three on a five-point scale, where it has been since 2010, with the exception of a period in 2015 when it was briefly raised to four.

“The terror threat level is based on a long-term assessment, which means that if this development continues for some time, the terror threat level may be raised,” said Säpo.