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CRIME

Swedish court locks up Vetlanda knife attacker for life

A 22-year-old man has been sentenced to life in jail for attacking seven people in a stabbing spree in the Swedish town of Vetlanda.

Swedish court locks up Vetlanda knife attacker for life
Police officers investigating the knife attack in Vetlanda in March. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

On March 3rd, police received calls about attacks in central Vetlanda, a town of about 13,000 people in the south of Sweden.

Seven men aged 35 to 75 were wounded, and while none died four receiving life threatening injuries.

The accused, Tamim Sultani, had said during the trial that he only remembered three of the attacks, however “he didn’t question what the plaintiffs said of the chain of events”, the court said in a statement.

The man also described his struggle with mental health, and said that the attack had occurred during a particularly distressing period and was triggered by a stranger who denied the existence of god, which had caused him to return home to grab a knife.

None of the victims had any previous connection to the man and were picked seemingly at random, but the court noted in its judgement that he had shown some discrimination, for instance by not attacking a group of schoolgirls.

The trial was briefly paused in early July in order for an assessment of the man’s psychological health, but it found he had not “committed the charges under the influence of a severe psychiatric disorder”.

Despite not being able to fully discern whether he intended to kill the victims, the court found that he had been aware that his attack had the potential to kill them, so the court found him guilty of seven counts of attempted murder.

He was sentenced to pay damages to the victims and was given a life sentence.

A life sentence in Sweden technically has no end date, but after 10 years the prisoner can apply to have their sentence commuted to a timed prison sentence, which is often granted – meaning in practice a life sentence is on average 16 years, according to Sweden’s prison service.

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for deadly shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for deadly shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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