Police slow to act in captive woman case

Police were informed about the woman held captive in a small cabin in southern Sweden for nine years, in November 2007. They acted first yesterday to arrest her captor - a 58-year-old man missing, thought dead, since 1982.

The owner of the camp-site outside of Eksjö in Småland, southern Sweden where the woman is thought to have been held captive since 1999, reported the 58-year-old man arrested by police on Friday, already in November 2007.

Neighbours had been keeping an eye on the couple and had been in contact with woman even before this time.

“She has been weak, so it has been difficult to talk to her alone. But we have sometimes been able trick him away and then somebody has gone in and checked that everything was okay, the camp-site owner, Siwert Arréhn said to news agency TT.

Arréhn related how the woman, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has sat in his kitchen and always seemed happy. But despite appearances Arréhn always had his suspicions that something was not right.

When a guest at the camp-site saw the man hit the woman in the head with a crutch Arréhn reported the matter to police, back in November 2007.

“The guest and I went to the police and I told them that they had to make an issue of this, report the matter to the social services on her behalf and find help for him,” Arréhn said.

Last week, over ten months later, police contacted Arréhn to come in for an interview about the case.

“A police officer called me and said that they had managed to work through their backlog and arrived at this case. I think that it was my report that is the basis for the recent events.”

The police officer in charge of the inquiry is not working with the case over the weekend and duty officer Mats Antonsson was not prepared to comment on the case to TT.

The circumstances around the man’s identity are shrouded in mystery. At the camp-site, where he has lived since 1999, he has given a different name to the one that features in the police investigation and which belongs to a man missing since 1982, and declared dead in 2006.

The identity of the woman, who now weighs 35-40 kilograms and can barely stand, is also something of a mystery and she was registered by the Swedish authorities as disappeared on April 14th 2008.

The 58-year-old man was remanded in custody by Eksjö district court on Friday afternoon on suspicion of domestic violence violations. He denies all charges.