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CRIME

Parents held for ‘forcing demons’ from daughter

Exorcism was the motivation for repeated attacks against a 14 year-old girl from western Sweden who was regularly beaten and burned by her father and stepmother, who wanted to rid the girl of “evil spirits”, prosecutors allege.

“The girl was put through a number of things to get rid of evil spirits that possessed her, according to certain notions,” said prosecutor Daniel Larson to local newspaper Borås Tidning (BT).

Police have previously been unwilling to divulge any details about the case, which occurred in Borås, in southwestern Sweden.

According to BT, suspicions first surfaced in 2004 when an anonymous report arrived at the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), but the agency opted not to pursue the matter at the time.

Six years later, in 2010, the agency received new reports that the child was being abused, as well as information indicating that her father had taken her to Skåne to force the evil daemons out of her.

The girl may have been beaten and burned over a long period of time in order to drive out demons. She was also locked up, in order to prevent her from infecting others with her evil spirits, reported the newspaper.

The prosecutor also confirmed that the case is connected to controversial local congregation The River.

“Events which we’ve investigated occurred on the congregation’s premises, so in that sense it is connected,” said Larson.

Following a four-hour remand hearing on Friday at Borås’ district court, the 33-year-old step mother , who is believed to be the driving force behind the violent exorcism attempts, was remanded in custody on suspicion of gross violation of a person’s integrity (grov fridskränkning).

The girl’s 37-year-old father was also ordered held on remand on suspicion of being an accomplice to the assault and for false imprisonment.

Attorneys for the father and stepmother told BT that their clients deny having committed any crimes.

The head of The River congregation, Gun Hartikainen, refused to comment on the matter.

“I have nothing to say to you. Have a blessed day. Good bye,” she told BT.

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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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