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A picture of a blatantly unrelated Swedish police car. But man, aren’t they sweet

On October 17, 2015, a woman in the Swedish town of Ludvika was raped outside of a restaurant in the center of town. The two men suspected of the crime were arrested on the 22nd of January 2016, followed a month later by a third man, suspected of aiding and abetting. All three of them were accused in court of rape. One of them confessed he was at the scene with the woman, but claimed that the other two were the ones to rape her. They, in turn, said they were nowhere near the incident and didn’t even know anything had happened.

The Falu District Court, however, found the woman’s story to be very credible. Besides that, cigaret butts had been found on the site, which, according to the police, indicated hat the men had been present. The court, therefore, concluded that one of the men raped the woman, the other held her down and the third stood watch, or at the very least did nothing to prevent the crime. Consequently, all three of them would be sentenced for conspiring to jointly rape the woman. They received four years in prison, after which they were to be deported. They would also have to pay damages of 166.860 SEK (around €17.000) to the woman.

Prosecutor Sanna Gens chose to appeal the decision, seeking higher sentences. This backfired, when on appeal the defendants were acquitted entirely.

Although the Court of Appeal agreed that the woman was forced into “sexual acts comparable to intercourse” and that the three men were on the scene with the woman, it did not follow the District Court in concluding that this made them guilty of rape.

The case against the men was based heavily on the testimony of the victim. The Court of Appeal found that some elements of her story “appeared to be unclear and to some extent inconsistent with the other investigation.

Because it is unclear exactly which suspect did what, reasoned the Court of Appeal, none of the men ought to have been convicted and all three of them “should therefore have been acquitted of all charges” as the Court deliberated. So out went the four-year prison sentences and the deportation order.

One of the men, a 25-year-old living in Ludvika, even received 140.000 SEK (around €14.000) compensation for time spent in prison, while another claimed compensation for his ‘suffering’ at the hands of the Attorney General, as well as loss of earnings to the amount of 37.600 SEK (slightly over €3850). This has been rejected, however, on the grounds that he was evidently present at the crime scene.