Court upholds terror verdict
The Svea Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and life sentences for two men accused of helping to carry out two executions in Syria in 2013.
Both men are in their thirties and come from the Gothenburg area. They were convicted by a Gothenburg court for having helped kill two people by cutting their throats in Aleppo. The main evidence was a video showing the executions. The men have denied they were the ones in the video.
In a statement on its website the Court of Appeal said that it made the same assessment as the district court. The Court of Appeal concluded that the two men are in fact the two masked persons who appear in the films used as evidence.
The Court's statement also says that the men were active enough in the killings to be considered the perpetrators.
"The Court of Appeal also determines that the intention of the killing was to strike terror in those who do not have the same viewpoints as the perpetrators," says the statement.
The case was the first in which the difference between terrorist crime and crimes against international law has been tried in a Swedish court. In order to convict someone of a terrorist crime, the prosecution must prove that the intention was to cause fear among others. That is somewhat more complicated than a crime against international law, where it must be proven that the men had fought with a group in an armed conflict.
News agency TT reported that the films were discovered during the search of a house in another case. The forensics division of the Swedish Police analyzed the film sequences and were confident that the men who stood trial were the same as the perpetrators in the video. The court of appeals accepted that determination.
The court also determined that a brain injury suffered by one of the two men, who was shot in battle, would not affect his sentence.
"This judgement feels good and to some extent will be a precendent for future investigations," said the chief prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström.
The defense lawyers for the two men indicated to news agency TT that the decision will likely be appealed again to Sweden's Supreme Court.
"There are shortcomings in both the evidence and the crime classification," said Lars Salkola who represented one of the men speaking with TT. "To point out two well-camouflaged men and say they were the two defendants... You can't make the matter that easy."