Newspaper cleared of defaming ex-Lindh murder suspect

Southern Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan has been cleared of libel charges after being sued by the initial suspect in the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh in 2002.

A nine-person jury deliberated for an hour before clearing the newspaper of libel charges at Malmö district court on Thursday.

The newspaper was sued by a man known in the media at the time as “the 35-year-old”.

As the first person arrested in relation to the stabbing, the man was held for a week while police conducted their investigations and was thus subjected to extensive scrutiny in the media.

The man pressed charges against Sydsvenskan and a slew of other newspapers for their reporting of him, arguing that he was presented as a reprehensible person and a criminal and that the publication of certain personal details meant he was easily identifiable.

The case against the Skåne-based newspaper was the first to come to court.

“Our news coverage was completely normal,” publisher Hans Månsson told news agency TT last week.

The newspaper and Hans Månsson denied the charges of aggravated defamation, a crime which can result in a large fine or prison for up to two years.

“One has to remember that the country’s foreign minister had been murdered. If you have the bad luck to be arrested and detained as a suspect then you have to expect the misfortune to be written about,” Månsson told TT.

The man was demanding 250,000 kronor ($34,610) in damages from the newspaper.

The 35-year-old has previously received 150,000 in damages from the Swedish state for the time spent in custody.

Anna Lindh died in the early hours of September 11th 2003 from stab wounds sustained after an attack in the Nordiska Kompaniet department store in central Stockholm the previous afternoon.

Mijailo Mijailovic was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder in March 2004.

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