Swedish court waives fine for activist due to 'climate emergency'

The Local Sweden
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Swedish court waives fine for activist due to 'climate emergency'
A book of Swedish laws. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A Swedish activist who blocked traffic in Stockholm won't have to pay a fine as he carried out the protest to fight the climate crisis, a court has ruled. But the ruling is unlikely to be upheld by the appeals court.


Climate activist Noa Tucker, a former local politician for the Green Party, took part in a demonstration in Stockholm in summer last year which blocked Kungsgatan, one of the capital's busiest streets, during rush hour.

He was arrested on the charge of disobeying a police order, and was found guilty in court, although he will not have to pay a fine.

According to court documents seen by The Local, the court found that Tucker had indeed disobeyed police orders, but argued that Tucker's actions were carried out in response to a concrete threat - the climate emergency - arguing that this meant a fine would be "unreasonable".

The court described the climate crisis as an "acute situation of emergency," adding that "the effects of climate change are already noticeable".

Two nämndemän, or lay judges, ruled that the fine should be waived, with the professional judge and one lay judge dissenting, ruling that he should be fined.

nämndeman is a politically-appointed layman who together with a professional judge passes judgement in court.

However, when the bench is divided, then the weaker sentence, in this case not having to pay a fine, wins.


Tucker's lawyer, Pia Björstrand, told SVT that neither she nor any of her colleagues have ever seen a similar sentence.

"I view this as historic," she said. "Not because it will stand [in appeals court] and become precedent, but because this is the first time in Swedish history where we have a sentence which actually states that we are in an acute climate emergency."

She underlined, however, that as the sentence was determined by laymen, it is unlikely to be held up if appealed.

Tucker shared her view.

"I obviously hope that they can understand the severity of the situation and can see this as acting in an emergency situation, but there are a lot of indicators that this might not hold," he told SVT.

The use of non-professionals in the legal system is not without its controversies. 

In a famous example from 2018, The Local revealed that two lay judges at Solna District Court appointed by the Centre Party had swung a court ruling based on what party leader Annie Lööf described as "Islamist" values, and in doing so acquitted a man of an alleged assault against his wife.


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