Last case dropped in Swedish serial-killer scandal


| Zoom

STOCKHOLM (AP) - 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."

By telephone from the Sater psychiatric unit, Bergwall called the decision to drop the final charges "overwhelming and emotional," and called for an investigation into how the justice system has handled his case.

"The next step is that I, with my lawyers, take actions for my release," he told The Associated Press.

Bergwall, a convicted sex offender and bank robber who at the time had changed his name to Thomas Quick, was already detained at the Sater unit when he started taking responsibility for a series of unsolved deaths. His grisly tales of homicide, rape and even cannibalism resulted in a series of murder convictions in the 1990s.

The lack of evidence to support the confessions led to some doubts over Bergwall's guilt, but a 2006 review by Sweden's chancellor of justice found no problems with the convictions.

Two years later Bergwall recanted in a Swedish TV documentary, saying he had fabricated the story of Thomas Quick the serial killer. He now claims it was a cry for attention, fueled by heavy medication.

"If I hadn't accepted therapy and benzodiazepines, no Thomas Quick would have been created," Bergwall told AP. "In that lies the guilt that I must carry to my grave with respect to the relatives of the victims, their suffering during the Thomas Quick years."

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." He 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.

With Bergwall's confessions withdrawn, there are no longer any strong links between the eight deaths, and it's not even clear that all were homicides. In two cases no bodies were found.

___

Associated Press writer Malin Rising contributed to this report.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Not the End
    Officials have another trick up their sleeves to help save King County's bus service

  • Go Sherm!
    Richard Sherman recognized along with Beyonce, Jeff Bezos and the Pope

  • Choke Hold
    The FDA is about to regulate a product that helps people quit tobacco
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.