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Tax cheats granted right to retrial

Updated tisdag 16 juli 2013 kl 19.35
Published tisdag 16 juli 2013 kl 09.45
"We are obliged to follow the European Convention and the practice of the European Court."
(1:49 min)
The Swedish Supreme Court brought Sweden into line with EU law. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/Scanpix.

A person who has paid tax surcharges cannot be prosecuted for tax crimes, according to a Supreme Court decision last month. Now, the Supreme Court has also ruled that the ban on double punishment should be retroactive, meaning that many who have been sentenced for tax crimes in Sweden since 2009 will be able to demand retrial and damages from the state.

In a pilot case completed on Tuesday, the Supreme Court determined that the Court of Appeal should retry a previously closed tax crime case since the sentenced individual had previously paid tax surcharges.

"According to the Supreme Court's new decision it is possible in such a case to take up a tax crime case again according to the retrial rules if it is necessary in order to prevent an ongoing rights violation in the form of deprivation of liberty," the Supreme Court wrote in a press release.

"This is valid in cases where the crime has been retried after the European Court, on February 10 2009, changed its interpretation of the individual's protection against having a single deed tried in two separate judicial procedures," the Supreme Court statement continued.

Out of the approximately 30 individuals who have demanded retrials sing the June ruling, around 10 have been released from prison until further notice, newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported on Sunday.

"I think this is a very well-formulated decision… We are obliged to follow the European Convention and the practice of the European Court," Ann Ramberg, president of the Swedish Bar Association, tells Radio Sweden.

Morgan Johansson of the Social Democratic opposition and also the chair of the Parliamentary Justice Committee criticizes the government for taking too long to fix this problem. He tells Swedish Radio News that in 2009, when the first court decision with a guiding principle came along, the government should have ordered an investigation into the law. He accuses the government of being asleep for four years and calls it a huge scandal.

But Mikael Lundholm of the finance department says he does not believe it has taken too long, referring to an investigation that will be ready this fall. He tells Swedish Radio News that Sweden reacted before it was clear that the country was breaking European regulations.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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