German woman requests new trial in Swedish child murder case
The Local · 28 Aug 2008, 13:28
Published: 28 Aug 2008 13:28 GMT+02:00
On Wednesday, one lay judge, Cecilia Uggla, resigned from her post following statements she made to the Expressen newspaper which called her impartiality in the case into question.
Now Schürrer’s attorney, Per-Ingvar Ekblad, has filed a formal objection with the Västmanland District Court against the case's two remaining lay judges.
According to Eklad’s petition, both of the remaining lay judges have revealed information about their own and the court’s deliberations ahead of the court’s final ruling in the case.
Ekblad points to statements in the tabloid press in which one of the remaining lay judges said “there is no reason to lie if one has the truth” and “the motive is unbelievably strong. The prosecutor has shown how it grew from Crete to Arboga”.
Ekblad says his client therefore questions whether she received the fair trial to which she is entitled.
The information that has come to light is grounds for requesting a new trial, claims Ekblad.
“My client can’t rid herself of the suspicion that both of the now reported lay judges have been affected by their resigned colleague’s preconceived notions on the question of [Schürrer's] guilt,” he writes.
Ekblad’s petition will now be reviewed by the court, but by other judges than those involved in the Arboga case.
After Uggla’s resignation on Wednesday, Judge Per Kjellson said he planned to continue the trial as planned with a final courtroom session in early October following the results of Schürrer’s mental health evaluation.
When lay judges take up their post, they are instructed by the head of the court, who is a lawyer, about how they should handle themselves.
Among other things, they are told not to speak with the press or other outsiders about what has been discussed during the closed-door deliberations, which lead to a verdict.
Having non-lawyers involved in court decisions is meant to add insights from the general public into the deliberations and to insure that the law is applied according to the public’s sense of justice.
On Tuesday, the court ruled that the burden of evidence showed Schürrer had murdered two children and attempted to murder their mother, ordering she undergo a psychiatric evaluation before the court decided on her eventual punishment.