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Court slashes sentence in 'honour killing' case

The Local | 7 May 2013, 11:35

A Swedish appeals court has reduced a lower court's eight-year prison sentence for a 17-year-old boy found of guilty fatally stabbing his sister more than 100 times after she fled a forced marriage in Iraq, in what the court referred to as an "honour killing".
 

In a ruling issued on Tuesday, the Malmö Court of Appeals (Hövrätten), upheld the teen's guilty verdict, but discarded the lower court's eight-year prison sentence.

The court instead sentenced the boy to four years in juvenile detention because he was 16 when he killed his sister.

As the boy was only days away from his 17th birthday at the time of the attack, the lower court had decided to punish him as a 17-year-old rather than as a 16-year-old, allowing for a longer prison sentence.

The appeals court verdict stated that had the the crime been committed by an adult, it would have warranted a sentence of life in prison.

The appeals court's verdict also confirmed that there was enough evidence to tie the teen to the murder, restating that the apparent motive was the notion of protecting the family's honour.

The 17-year-old's sister had previously fled a forced marriage in Iraq and returned to Sweden. Her body was found with multiple stab wounds in her Landskrona apartment in April 2012.

Representatives of the Malmö-based organization Tänk om, which works to stop honour crimes, told local media at the time that the woman had been in touch with them for one year since returning to Sweden and that she slept with a knife under her pillow for fear of reprisals over her escape.

They claimed local authorities had ignored their warnings that the woman was under threat and needed protection.

After being found guilty in district court, the victim's brother appealed his sentence and argued he should be set free.

Upon learning of the verdict, attorney Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represented the victim's sister, claimed the question of sentencing for violent crimes committed by young people should be tried in the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen).

"You have to look at what sort of murder we're dealing with. There are a number of complicating circumstances," she told the TT news agency.

She added, however, that she was happy that the appeals court had confirmed the "honour" motive for the killing, seeing the verdict as a sign that the Swedish courts are starting to deal with a matter facing many young people in Sweden.

"I'm even more pleased considering all of those who have actually been victims of honour crimes," she said.

TT/The Local/at

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