I was surprised by how different media outlets reported the verdict made by the Solna District Court in February. The verdict acquitted a man who was suspected of assaulting his wife, but the decision contained things that had no basis in Swedish law. I realised that there was something about the verdict that didn’t seem right, that there was an element that was politically or religiously motivated. But I didn’t understand why the media focussed on one of the jury members, a Muslim woman, who together with three other members of the jury and a judge gave the verdict.
What did the other members of the jury think and why did the media not write anything about the judge that had also signed their name under the verdict?
I became afraid that there were people in Sweden who wanted to use the verdict to deter people from Islam, as if to imply that radical Islamists have the ability to influence the courts in Sweden.
I was simply forced to find out more about how the District Courts work in Sweden because I was certain that the judicial system in Sweden strongly adheres to the rule of law.
I inquired with Kristianstadsblad’s investigative journalist who has attended many trials and who has good understanding and knowledge of the legal system.
I understand that in a trial there are four people: three members of a jury and a judge who listen to two parties who have a dispute; or where one party is being prosecuted for a crime and the other party is the victim, the injured party. The four will determine the verdict and discuss whether the evidence is sufficient as well as the events that are the basis for a possible crime. Then a decision is made.
The four may not agree on a verdict; two may want to convict the suspect and two may want to acquit the suspect of the crime. In such a case the court would rather acquit the suspect rather than convict them. This is what happened during the trial in Solna.
The judge and a member of the jury felt that the man was guilty of assault, but the other two members of the jury considered him to be innocent.
The members of the jury who made the decision to acquit have to explain their rationale in writing. It was here that the problem arose. One of the jury members wrote a reasoning that was based on religious reasons and this is forbidden in Sweden. In Sweden, only the law governs.
Before forming an opinion it is important that one finds out all of the facts. Irrespective of what the media reports, I have great faith in the Swedish judicial system which is a fundamental part of a democracy.
The verdict has been appealed to a higher authority. The man can be acquitted there too, but not because of religious reasons.