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Assange/Quick: A Long Time Coming, A Longer Still to Wait
Injustice is repeatedly seen to be done.
DUCKPOND (Rixstep) — It's been a long time coming for Thomas Quick, and it's been a long time waiting for Sweden's compromised prosecution authority to comment on what's universally regarded as the country's biggest legal scandal ever.
Prosecutor-general Anders Perklev was more or less forced to make a statement in the wake of the final acquittal of Sture Bergwall (aka Thomas Quick) who was once convicted of eight murders without a shred of evidence.
It was later discovered that an obsessed prosecutor deliberately withheld evidence from the courts, evidence that would have exonerated defendant Quick. The courts, going only on what the prosecutor gave them, and having only the testimony of the defendant himself, ruled 'guilty' in all eight cases.
The ugly corollary to the above is of course that Quick's public defender, none other than Claes Borgström, raked in over USD 750,000 - over three quarters of a million dollars - by essentially doing nothing for all those years. Borgström was well aware of how evidence was withheld but did nothing to protect his client.
Borgström's shaming led to a number of further developments: first Borgström tried to make an emotional appeal through the media; and then when given the opportunity, jumped at the chance to become public defender for Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilén in an attempt to divert media scrutiny into his past.
Following is the full statement of prosecutor-general Perklev dated 31 July 2013.
Chief prosecutor Håkan Nyman has today closed the case against Sture Bergwall (aka Thomas Quick) in the matter of the murder in Piteå in 1976. The review of the so-called Quick cases is now complete, as pertains to the prosecution authority.
In connection with the final dismissal, prosecutor-general Anders Perklev has today issued a decision and a summary of conclusions.
'That an individual can be convicted of eight murders and then completely exonerated is unique in Sweden's judicial history. The verdicts were all flawed. This was a huge failure for the judicial system. This of course prompts questions about how the judicial system managed those cases', says Anders Perklev.
The prosecution authority arrived at two general conclusions.
- In larger more complex cases, one should in general assign more than one prosecutor, in order to provide a more nuanced view of the investigation.
- When the suspect does not himself act in his own defence, the prosecutor should assume an extraordinary responsibility, something the public defender is otherwise expected to assume.
Much has changed in the prosecution authority in the years since the Quick investigations. With a new focus on evidence, requirements in the courts have also been raised. This and the consideration for the special circumstances of the investigations are, according to the prosecutor-general, factors that should prevent something like this ever happening again.
In addition to development work already underway, there is still reason to implement the following visionary remedies in order to reduce the risk for future cases of this sort.
- A review of the system used when multiple prosecutors work together on a case. It can sometimes be correct to see if a prosecutor can assume an extra role in monitoring weaknesses in the investigation.
- We shall assemble a special workgroup which, working from current conditions, shall without agenda attempt to identify possible weaknesses an systemic flaws in the prosecution authority, both judicial and evidentiary. Their task shall also be to recommend remedies which can further contribute to future investigations and prosecutions leading to just verdicts. Members of the judicial system outside the prosecution authority should also partake in the work of this group.
Must be Seen to be Done
To quote the oft-heard sound bite by Mark Stephens, 'justice must be seen to be done'. The big crisis in Sweden, what with the scandals in the cases of Quick and Assange, is that people in general, not only in Sweden but around the world, have totally lost faith in the Swedish judicial system. It's not only that justice isn't seen to be done - injustice is repeatedly seen to be done. And that is a major crisis from which Sweden may never recover.
The cases of Quick and Assange are not isolated phenomena. But the Quick case, and even more the Assange case after it, have shined a light on a wobbly and at times egregiously corrupt system.
- It's only in freedom of the press cases that Sweden has trial by jury. The 'judges' in all other cases are a joke, and many of them have significant criminal records.
- Sweden has no bail system. A prosecutor - such as Marianne Ny - can apply every fortnight to keep 'suspects' in detention, and in one case kept an innocent man behind bars for over a year and a half.
- Prosecutors and police can make things up as they go along. They do not have to specify allegations at the outset. This coincidentally makes it possible for Marianne Ny to arrest Julian Assange on suspicion of the felony of breaking a condom, then later accuse him of 'aiding the enemy'.
- Detention environments in Sweden are amongst the most inhumane in Europe. Yes this is happening in Sweden.
- Most Swedish judges have no formal education in the law. Test results for these judges show most of them don't understand the most basic of judicial principles.
- Some judges think it's OK to convict with no evidence at all - just give the defendant a lighter sentence. [Yes it truly boggles the mind - if they can't demonstrate the defendant is guilty, then how do they arrive at that conclusion?]
- The Swedish judicial system does not formally distinguish between 'hard' or 'forensic' evidence and loose 'circumstantial' evidence. Swedish logic can be baffling too: sometimes it's considered evidence when circumstances aren't exculpatory for the defendant (whilst still not being conclusive in any way).
And that's only scratching the surface. Whilst Julian Assange struggled through the British court system, Swedes finally woke up to how arbitrary, bizarre, skewed, and at times corrupt their system is - how little chance they themselves have of a 'fair trial'.
Perklev's statements and suggestions are without fangs. They're made by a person within the system who, through ignorance or self-interest, doesn't see or refuses to see how corrupt the system really is.
Nothing less than a complete revamp of the judicial system will save Sweden. Nothing less than an effort on that scale will ever restore faith in the country again.
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Industry Watch: 7th December
Industry Watch: Third Quick Case Dismissed
Industry Watch: Borgström Digs Ditch Deeper Still
Industry Watch: Claes Borgström - Defence Attorney?
Industry Watch: Claes Borgström: 'I feel deeply violated'
Industry Watch: Quick: Elizabeth Day Travels to Sweden
Industry Watch: Assange in Sweden: Claes Borgström's Bill
Industry Watch: Quick: They Invented a Serial Killer - Not Held to Account
Industry Watch: Desperate attempt by Borgström, Lambertz to save reputation
Industry Watch: Assange Case: Claes Borgström Reported to Justice Chancellery
Learning Curve: Swedish Criminal Code: 'Rape Doesn't Have to be Unpleasant'
Red Hat Diaries: Circus Quick
Red Hat Diaries: Assange: Fair Trial in Sweden?
Red Hat Diaries: The Claes Borgström Interview
Red Hat Diaries: Julian Assange & Claes Borgström
Red Hat Diaries: Quick: My Final Chat with Borgström
The Technological: How to Earn a Cool Half Million
Aftonbladet: De skapade seriemördaren - går fria från ansvar