Cars were burnt during the unrest. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/Scanpix.

First trial linked to Stockholm riots

The first criminal proceeding resulting from recent rioting in Stockholm suburbs is starting today.

Johan Hanson, the lawyer representing the accused man, says that his client was drunk at the time of the incident.

"He was drunk at the time, and as far as I can understand, it was just an impulsive action, which he can't really explain himself. He was not together with any others at the time. He wasn't part of any gang," says the attorney.

The riots started about one month ago in the suburb of Husby, reportedly triggered by the fatal police shooting of a 68-year-old local resident. Over the course of a week, the rioting spread to several other poverty-hit suburbs, including Rinkeby and Tensta. Dozens of cars, an art hall and even a police station were attacked, shop windows were shattered and schools were vandalized. Police and firemen responding to the fires were often met with groups of stone-throwing youths.

In all, some 20 young men were taken into custody.

State prosecutor Andreas Nyberg tells Radio Sweden that the 26-year-old is being charged with aggravated vandalism in Rinkeby, a high-rise suburb close to Husby. The suspect had previously been found guilty of driving without a license and drug offences.

At the same time, an investigation is still under way into the fatal police shooting of a 68-year-old Husby resident, who was holding a knife. That incident may have been the spark which triggered the widespread social unrest across outlying areas of Stockholm.

A decision about whether the officer will be charged with a crime is expected at the end of July.

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