Appeals court upholds Knutby verdict

Pastor Helge Fossmo has been sentenced by the Appeals Court to life imprisonment for the murder of his second wife, Alexandra, and for the attempted murder of a neighbour in January of this year. He was found not guilty of the murder of his first wife in 1999.

The woman who actually pulled the trigger, the family’s nanny Sara Svensson, was also found guilty of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to secure psychiatric care.

The verdicts are precisely the same as those handed down by the district court in August. However, nobody was happy with the decisions first time around: Fossmo appealed against his life sentence, while the prosecutor appealed against the not guilty verdict for the murder of his first wife and wanted Svensson sentenced to life imprisonment rather than psychiatric care.

It is not clear yet whether the case will now proceed to the Supreme Court.

On January 10th 2004 Alexandra Fossmo was shot dead while she was asleep in the village of Knutby, not far from Uppsala. She was the wife of Pastor Helge Fossmo, one of the leaders of the extreme pentecostal sect that dominates village life, and sister of the woman many claimed was the cult’s real leader, Lsa Waldau – otherwise known as the Bride of Christ.

A short while later, the killer knocked on the door of a neighbour, Daniel Linde, whose wife was having an affair with the pastor, and shot him as he opened the door. He survived.

Sara Svensson admitted to the shootings from the start, but claimed that she was being controlled by the manipulative pastor.

According to Friday’s Aftonbladet, the court believed her, saying in its verdict:

“In the judgement of the investigation into Sara Svensson’s psychiatric state, the court cannot find grounds for any conclusion other than that she suffers from a psychiatric disorder of such a nature and extent that it constitutes a serious psychiatric disorder in the meaning of the law.”

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