Experts dismiss Knutby pastor Helge Fossmo’s confession

Police in Uppsala are to question the Knutby pastor Helge Fossmo after he admitted on Thursday that he was involved in the murder of his wife and the attempted murder of a neighbour in 2004. But the confession has been lambasted by a professor of psychology.

Two and a half years after the drama unfolded in the village of Knutby, Fossmo – serving a life sentence – told TV4’s Nyheterna programme that he was involved and that there was more to be revealed.

He said that he would “put his cards on the table” for the police.

Uppsala police spokesman Christer Nordström told TT that since Fossmo had now admitted to being involved – after vehemently denying any guilt during the trial – he would be interviewed again. How the matter would be treated was discussed by officers on Friday.

Christer Nordström emphasised that Fossmo had already been found guilty of instigating the murder of his second wife and the attempted murder of his neighbour – with whose wife the pastor was having an affair.

In the television interview Fossmo said that there are others involved in the crime, but that he wanted to tell the police, not the media.

Earlier in the case, Fossmo pointed the finger at a woman in the Knutby congregation, an extreme Pentacostal cult.

But according to Christer Nordstro”m, the police did not suspect anyone other than Fossmo and Sara Svensson, the Fossmos’ nanny – with whom the pastor was also having an affair and who pulled the trigger.

According to Sven Å Christianson, a professor of psychology who attended the Knutby trial, Fossmo’s admission is not evidence that he has ‘recovered’ but a way of using other people for his own ends. It must be seen against a background of the cold-blooded crime and Fossmo’s behaviour during the trial and questioning:

“This man needs constant confirmation and elevation from other people. The whole time, he needs to interact with others – he can’t just sit there, forgotten.”

Helge Fossmo, who has undergone psychiatric therapy while he has been in prison, said to TV4 that he has solwoly recovered and now sees his own role differently. But Sven Å Christianson is not convinced.

“I mean, this isn’t a recovery – people with a psychopathic personality don’t recover, they learn how to handle their environment. He’s saying whatever’s in his interests.”

But psychologist and psychotherapist Barbro Roslund, who has 20 years’ experience of criminal psychiatric care, believes the confession is a relief for Fossmo.

“I think it has been very hard to carry this. Perhaps he just couldn’t deny it any longer, and he wants to move forward in his therapy. To be able to do that he must tell the truth,” she said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday September 1, 2006.
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