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Agency ‘lacks tools’ to assess exorcist killer

Sweden's National Board of Forensic Medicine (Rättsmedicinalverket) has admitted that it lacks the tools to fully assess the risk of relapse for the 52-year-old man convicted of killing his seven-year-old stepdaughter during an "exorcism".

Agency 'lacks tools' to assess exorcist killer

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.

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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