Life sentence upheld for Gällivare murder

Sweden's appeals court has upheld a sentence of life imprisonment for Toni Alldén, the 51-year-old who has confessed to killing 29-year-old Carolin Stenvall outside Gällivare in northern Sweden.

Life sentence upheld for Gällivare murder

Alldén admitted to killing Stenvall last September but claimed it was an accident. The Gällivare District Court sentenced him to life in prison for the crime in March this year.

Stenvall disappeared on September 12th, 2008 on her way to a job interview near Kiruna.

Her abandoned car was found the following day at a roadside rest stop about ten kilometres south of Gällivare.

Alldén was taken in for questioning on October 16th on suspicions of having murdered the missing woman.

Police discovered traces of Stenvall’s blood on the floor mat of Alldén’s car.

He later admitted to causing the 29-year-old’s death, claiming it took place at the rest stop following an argument over Alldén’s driving.

He explained that he pushed Stenvall, who then hit her head on the towing apparatus attached to Alldén’s trainer and died.

But an autopsy report indicated Stenvall’s death had been caused by gunshot fired at her back, rather than the fall.

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Santa Winter Games draw Christmas lovers to the Arctic

Christmas cheer came early to Sweden's Arctic mining town of Gällivare this weekend, where Santas from around the world gathered to compete in one of the world's most important but little known sporting events: the Santa Winter Games.

Santa Winter Games draw Christmas lovers to the Arctic

“We’re getting into shape before delivering all the Christmas presents and we want to make all the children happy today,” said the only Mother Christmas taking part in the competition.

She traveled from France and donned her red suit to compete for the second year in a row.

The nine competitors and their elves paraded Saturday through the Lapland town of Gällivare, located 100 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, to the site of the competition in the town’s centre.

Japan’s Santa Claus was accompanied by three human reindeer, who, in a gracious display of Christmas spirit, agreed to pull the sleigh of the local Santa also competing in the event.

Along the route, curious onlookers joined the procession.

Agnes, a toddler bundled up in a warm purple snowsuit, was fascinated.

“A Santa! Oh! Another one! I have to kiss them! All of them! I’ve never seen so many,” she exclaimed.

Raissa, a Russian 53-year-old, came to watch the games for the fifth year in a row.

“I like all these Santa Clauses. It’s fun and nice. It’s an event that

makes me happy,” she said with a wide grin.

As spectators watched from the sidelines, elves and reindeer handed out flags, whistles and candy to supporters.

The Father Christmas from Spain had a three-year-old helper named Marco who conscientiously completed his duties before diving face-first into the snow, as he discovered white fluffy snowflakes for the first time.

The competition included a reindeer-riding event, porridge-eating, karaoke and sack races, before the jury crowned a winner.

“Our local Laplander has to win. He rocks!” said Siri, 11, who watched the competition with her friends atop a snowy hill.

“I promised the Dutch participant that I’d root for him. He’s so nice,” said Ina-Britt, 76, who has watched each Santa Winter Games since the start in 2003.

France’s Mother Christmas said she was having fun, even though there’s a lot of effort involved.

“It’s not that easy,” she admitted between two events.

“Ho ho ho, I’m happy, Merry Christmas!” thundered in English the Chinese Father Christmas who came all the way from Hong Kong.

In the end, the Santa from the Netherlands was declared the winner of the 2012 competition.

“I’m thrilled: I’m the first to win two years in a row. I’m going to come back next year to defend my title,” he vowed.

After the competition, everyone had a smile on their lips as they drank mulled wine – or hot chocolate for the youngsters – at the town’s picturesque Christmas market.

Some 400 people braved the cold in parkas and warm boots to watch this year’s competition, a record, according to organizers.

“Next year, we’ll do things bigger,” said Mathias Svalenström, who

organizes the annual event.

AFP/The Local

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