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Case dropped in Swedish killer scandal

31 July 2013, 16:38

Stockholm - Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped the last remaining charges against a man who was once considered Sweden's worst serial killer, but whose eight murder convictions were overturned after he withdrew his confessions.

Psychiatric officials will now evaluate whether 63-year-old Sture Bergwall can be released from the secure mental health unit where he's been held since 1991.

Bergwall confessed to more than 30 murders over three decades and was convicted of eight of them. But he later said he had lied to investigators because he craved attention and was heavily medicated.

Retrials were ordered in each case but prosecutors said that without the confessions they didn't have enough evidence to go back to court. On Wednesday they dropped the final case, which involved the death of a 15-year-old boy who disappeared in northern Sweden in 1976.

Bergwall was convicted in 1994 of murdering the boy even though there was no technical evidence linking him to the crime and the cause of death could not be established.

"That a person has been convicted of eight murders and later been declared innocent, that is unique in Swedish legal history," attorney general Anders Perklev told reporters in Stockholm. "It has to be considered as a big failure for the justice system."

On his blog, Bergwall expressed "deep satisfaction" with the decision to drop the final charges and called for an investigation into how the justice system handled his case.

Sven-Erik Alhem, a Swedish legal expert who was not involved with the case, called it Sweden's "greatest miscarriage of justice in modern times".

Alhem said it was particularly painful for the families of the victims, who are unlikely to ever find out the truth of what happened to their loved ones.

- AP


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