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CRIME

‘She had dreams’: Tributes paid to girl as police vow to bring killers to justice

Police and Swedish decision-makers vowed to do everything to bring the shooters to justice as friends paid tribute to the 12-year-old girl killed south of Stockholm.

'She had dreams': Tributes paid to girl as police vow to bring killers to justice
Local residents gathered at the petrol station where the girl was shot dead. Photo: Ali Lorestani/TT

Police were called to the shooting at 3.27am on Sunday at a fuel station in the Norsborg area of Botkyrka, south of Stockholm. The girl was taken to hospital, but later died from her injuries. According to unconfirmed reports in several Swedish newspapers, she was hit by a stray bullet and had not been the intended target.

Friends of the girl and local residents gathered on the site on Sunday to pay tribute to her.

“She was always full of energy and wanted what's best for everyone. She had dreams. She deserves all the best,” a 13-year-old friend who had come to the fuel station to light candles, told newspaper Expressen.

A mother-of-three whose son was also friends with the girl and had lived in the area her entire life, told Aftonbladet that her son had been planning to go swimming with the girl the following day. She said she and her children used to go to the fuel station regularly to eat at the nearby PizzaHut or McDonalds.

“We felt safe, but now there is no safety. I don't know what it would feel like to come here and eat in the future,” she said.

Meanwhile, police and decision-makers pledged to continue the crackdown on violent crime in Sweden.

“My thoughts are first and foremost with the girl's family and loved ones, but also to everyone in the area. Nobody should have to fear shootings and other violence where they live,” said national police chief Anders Thornberg in a comment to TT.

“We will investigate and do everything in our power to bring the people behind this terrible act to justice. We will collect witness statements, forensic evidence and all material that could help us move the investigation forward. But how successful we are also depends on those who know anything about the incident coming forward and helping us solve the crime.”

“We are going to set things right when it comes to increasingly serious violence in society, but in order to do that we have to continue to work together. When school, social services, police, civil society and citizens work together we will eventually succeed.”

Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg said he was “shocked and disgusted”.

“I am aware that no words are enough for those who have lost a child in this awful way, but I still want to say that our thoughts are with you and that we share your grief in these difficult times. The government will continue to expand society's crime-fighting capacity with more police, tougher punishments and preventive work,” he wrote in a comment to TT.

Sweden launched a so-called “special national incident” in November 2019 to look into violent gang crime incidents, but the number of shootings increased in the first four months of 2020 compared to last year.

Fifteen people were killed in 98 shootings between January and April, according to police statistics released earlier this year. In the same period of 2019, there were 81 shootings with 15 people killed.

However, the number of fatal shootings has remained relatively unchanged compared to previous years. Nine people were killed in 76 shootings during the same four months in 2018, and the year before that a total of 16 people were killed in 99 shootings.

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CRIME

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

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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