Photo: Helena Groll/SR.

Östberg Pleads For New Chance

One of Sweden's most well known prisoners, 55 year old Annika Östberg, could be nearing her release. On Monday Östberg appeared for the first time in a Swedish court, and argued her case in Örebro District Court.

Annika Östberg was transferred to a Swedish prison in the spring, after more than 28 years behind bars in the US. She was sentenced to between 25 years and life in prison for her part in two murders, including that of a policeman. This summer, Östberg appealed for her life term to be converted to a fixed-term sentence and that is what was dealt with by the court on Monday.

The Prison Service has agreed to give Östberg a fixed-term sentence, but the National Board of Forensic Medicine says there is a "medium high" risk that she will revert to crime, due to her long period in an environment very foreign to Swedish society (i.e. American prison). The Board proposes that she is released very gradually. Nevertheless, on Monday morning Östberg's lawyer Johan Ödlund told the news agency TT that he hopes she will be free next summer - which was also the case he presented in court.

According to Ödlund, Östberg has had a number of probations since arriving in Sweden and so far she has not been recognised while out in society. He said that there was no risk of Östberg reverting back to a life of crime. She wants to be rehabilitated and make her way out into society gradually, to ultimately try to make a living working with dogs.

However, the prosecutor Gunnar Brodin is against a fixed term sentence for Östberg, arguing that it is too soon.

The last speaker during the proceedings was Östberg herself.

"All I am asking for is a fair chance of making a new life for myself at home", she said.

A decision will be reached by the court in a week's time.

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