Sweden faces questions after Stockholm terror verdict

The man behind the 2017 deadly terror attack in Stockholm was given a life sentence for terrorist crimes. The guilty verdict has not been disputed, but the judgment raises other serious questions Sweden must grapple with.

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards NewsMavens, Sweden
Sweden faces questions after Stockholm terror verdict - NewsMavens
2017 memorial for vitcims of attack, WikiCommons

Why this story matters:

Rakhmat Akilov confirmed on Monday that he would not appeal the verdict, having pleaded guilty to terrorist crimes at the start of the trial.

A life sentence was requested by prosecutors, and was expected by his defense lawyer. It's unclear how many years he will actually serve, as 34 years is the longest anyone has ever served in Sweden. Regardless, the man will be deported if and when the sentence is completed.

While no one seems to dispute the verdict itself, other aspects of the court ruling have raised questions in Sweden, which has not had a deadly terror attack since the 2003 law on terrorist crimes.

One criticism is the amount of compensation awarded to victims and the families of those who were killed. Other countries such as the UK and France have special funds to compensate relatives of terror victims.

The trial also revealed that the attacker wanted to cause much more severe damage, reigniting debate about whether Swedish authorities are doing enough to prevent such attacks. The attacker was known to security police but was able to go underground, regardless. Since the attack, Sweden's politicians have looked into ways to plug gaps in terror legislation, with many calling for increased police funding.

Details from the story:

  • The attack took place in April 2017, when he drove a stolen truck down a popular shopping street, seriously injuring ten people and killing 5. 
  • Before carrying out the attack, the perpetrator swore allegiance to Isis, but the terror group has never claimed responsibility for the attack -- something that appeared to surprise the attacker when he was told this in court.
  • Stockholm's District Court labelled the attack “perhaps the most serious crime ever carried out in Sweden.”
  • The trial was also one of the biggest ever to occur in Sweden, lasting nearly four months and with 144 plaintiffs.
  • The defendant was found guilty of 119 counts of attempted murder as well as for terrorist crimes.
  • The youngest victim would have turned 13 on the day the verdict was announced.
  • Reperations were in amounts of: 150,000 kronor for the seriously injured victims, 125,000 for those considered victims of attempted murder, but only 60,000 kronor for the relatives of the five killed in the attack.
  • Legal representatives also received significantly less compensation than requested: 13.9 million kronor between the 14 lawyers, compared to 20.6 million requested.
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