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Stockholm suspect admits terror crime in first court appearance

Published tisdag 11 april kl 10.19
Lawyer: Akilov admits guilt
(0:24 min)
The pre-trial detention hearing was held in Stockholm District Court on Tuesday.
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The pre-trial detention hearing was held in Stockholm District Court on Tuesday. Credit: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
A courtroom sketch of how Rakhmat Akilov appeared in Tuesday's hearing.
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A courtroom sketch of how Rakhmat Akilov appeared in Tuesday's hearing. Credit: Johan Hallnäs/TT

Stockholm attack suspect Rakhmat Akilov was on Tuesday placed in pre-trial detention after admitting in court to committing a terror crime.

Stockholm District Court ruled that Akilov should be detained pending trial for committing a terror offence. He will also undergo a psychiatric evaluation. 

The court also announced that Akilov would be prosecuted by May 11 unless the prosecutor requests extra time to gather evidence. 

The court ordered that a second suspect, who was arrested on Sunday, should not be placed in pre-trial detention as suspicions against him had weakened since his arrest. 

The man was not released however, because of a previous extradition order from Sweden's Migration Agency, the court said in a press statement. The man has been placed in custody before being deported. 

State-appointed defence lawyer Johan Eriksson told the hearing that his client admitted to driving the truck which mowed down pedestrians on Drottninggatan, Stockholm's busiest shopping street, on Friday afternoon. 

The situation is that the suspect Rakhmat Akilov is pleading guilty to terrorist offences and therefore accepts being charged with a crime," Eriksson said. 

Akilov did not therefore wish to oppose the prosecution's call that he be placed in pre-trial detention, he added.

The 39-year-old Uzbek citizen sat with his back to the court gallery, dressed in green, with his head bowed and shielded from view by the thick top, Sweden's TT newswire reported. 

Immediately after Eriksson's  statement, the court ruled that the rest of the hearing should be held behind closed doors and requested that journalists leave the courtroom.

Akilov himself said nothing during this time. 

The prosecutor in the case, Hans Ihrman, told Swedish Radio that Akilov's admission did not obviate the need to carry out a thorough investigation. 

"This is obviously an important development, but the investigation is not finished as a result," he said. "The investigation is going to be continued undiminished. We are going to do everything we can to bring everyone involved to justice." 

In Sweden, a suspect can only be held in by police for a maximum of four days before a court needs to rule that they be held in pre-trial detention, or 'häktning' in Swedish. 

Suspects in Sweden are often held in pre-trial detention for months, and even years, before a prosecutor decides that police have amassed sufficient evidence to prosecute. 

Suspects can only be placed in pre-trial detention in cases where the maximum possible prison sentence is more than one year. 

Detention can be imposed by the court if they see a risk that the suspect may commit further crimes, that they might destroy evidence or otherwise affect the investigation, or that they might flee.

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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