Sweden’s ill-fated yule goat burns down a week before Christmas

Sweden's most famous yule goat, Gävlebocken, has once again succumbed to flames in an arson attack. A man with soot on his hands was arrested close to the scene.

Sweden's ill-fated yule goat burns down a week before Christmas
Gävle police at the scene of the blaze, with the yule goat corpse in the background. Photo: Pernilla Wahlman/TT

Every year the massive Christmas goat in the Slottstorget square in Gävle, central Sweden, attracts a media storm with locals dreaming up new ways to protect the 13-metre-high creation.

Despite their efforts, including in some years spraying the goat in anti-flammable liquid, the goat usually goes up in flames long before Swedes have opened their Christmas presents.

In 2016, the last time it was vandalised, it burned down on its opening day.

If it had survived this Christmas season, it would have been a historic year for the goat, which has never survived five consecutive years before.

But it was not to be. At 3.38am on Friday, Gävle police got a call that the giant straw buck was on fire.

Police said that a smaller nearby goat was first set ablaze. By 3.41am, both goats had burned to the ground.

According to witnesses, a “tall and athletically built man”, wearing dark clothes and a hood, was seen leaving the scene when the fire started.

Witnesses also reported spotting a man changing his clothes close to the scene, who when confronted said he “did not have a lighter”.

Police shortly thereafter found the man, who had soot all over his hands. The man, in his 40s, was later arrested. He denies the allegations.

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Six convicted of murder in Swedish honour killing case

Six people have been convicted of murder by a Swedish district court in an honour violence case in which a man was killed after having an affair with a married woman.

Six convicted of murder in Swedish honour killing case
The victim was found dead on a road south of Sundsvall in 2016. Photo: Mats Andersson/TT

The case involved 23-year-old victim Ramin Sherzaj, who was bundled into a car from a square in Gävle in April of 2016, then later found murdered in Sundsvall. Police were first alerted by a jogger who saw a screaming man being taken into a car by “some guys with hoods”. The man was beaten during the journey then strangled to death.

The murder was an act of revenge due to an affair between Sherzaj and a married woman which started in 2015. The woman separated from her husband then later ended the affair, to which Sherzaj responded by posting a picture of himself kissing her on Facebook and sending friend requests to her and her ex-husband's relatives.

Gävle District Court sentenced five of those convicted including the woman, her ex-husband and two of her relatives to life in prison, while the sixth was sentenced to 14 years in prison due to being under the age of 21 when the crime took place. He has also been given a deportation order and banned from returning to Sweden thereafter.

“The district court has found that these six people together and in agreement used violence to take the victim away in order to deprive him of his life, then assaulted him before taking his life; all in accordance with the charge sheet. They are convicted of murder, wherein kidnapping was involved. They are also sentenced to pay damages to the plaintiffs. Deportation was requested for three of the people. For two of them the deportation application was dismissed, but for the third who was sentenced to 14 years, the application was granted,” a Gävle District Court statement read.

The murder was honour related according to the verdict, seen by The Local, and triggered by the sharing of the photograph.

The court freed two other people from charges of assisting in kidnapping and assisting murder, as well as protecting a criminal.

Around 100 police officers across Sweden worked on the investigation, which was the biggest in the history of Gävle Police Aftonbladet reports, and involved evidence from CCTV cameras, mobile phones, computers and letters.

READ ALSO: 'Honour violence is a crime, there's nothing honourable about it'