According to the board’s assessment of the case the crime was “committed in an imaginary cultural context where the influence of evil spirits, witches’ spells and the power of curses are by no means strange, and are instead problems of an everyday nature.”
The board concluded therefore that existing risk assessment methodology is insufficient to assess the case and that it “lacks any experience of phenomena of this kind”.
The board however was able to observe that the 52-year-old has demonstrated exemplary behaviour while in detention with a complete absence of “aggressive reactionary behaviour”.
The board also observed that the man has in interviews, held to consider whether his life sentence should be commuted to a fixed term penalty, “completely distanced himself from his previous world-view which incorporated witchcraft, evil spirits and obsession”.
The case dates back to 1999 when the man’s seven-year-old step-daughter died during an attempt to drive evil spirits from her body.
The child had arrived in Sweden during the summer of 1999 with two other relatives and were in the care of the man and his wife.
Shortly after their arrival in the couple’s home, they began to suspect that their home had become haunted. According to the board’s report, the man has told of having heard noises that could not be explained.
When one of the children awoke one morning with scratches the man interrogated the children about his suspicions that he they had brought with them a curse from their home country, the Congo, and that perhaps the man’s uncle was responsible.
After a prolonged attempt to beat the feared evil spirits from the children’s bodies, the seven-year-old girl died from her injuries on Christmas Eve 1999.
The man, his wife and a further adult present at the “exorcism” were convicted in connection with the girl’s death. After undergoing a psychiatric assessment, the man and his wife were sentenced to life and fours years imprisonment respectively.
While the board has concluded that it lacks the methods to assess the man’s criminal past, due to the man’s exemplary behaviour in prison it is concluded there is a low risk of a repeat offence.