Sweden acquits Syrian man of ‘terror crime’ after attack on Shiite cultural centre
Stockholm — On Friday, a court acquitted a Syrian refugee accused of attacking a Shiite cultural centre in southern Sweden, saying there was no evidence against him to prove a "terror crime" or arson.
The 30-year-old Syrian citizen, a Sunni Muslim, had been charged with a "terror crime, alternatively arson" after allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at the centre on October 11, triggering a fire, while several people were having a Shiite celebration in Sweden’s third largest city of Malmö.
Lennart Strinas, a judge at the Malmo district court, said "one of the prerequisites for the fire to be judged a terrorist crime" is that the attack could have "seriously damaged" the Swedish state. "This was not the case according to the district court," Strinas said in a statement, adding the incident ought to be considered arson instead.
But there was no technical evidence or witnesses pointing to the Syrian either, the court ruled. No trace of the man’s fingerprints was found at the crime scene, though the attack was caught on a surveillance camera.
The man applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015 and was granted a temporary residency permit, according to the Swedish Migration Agency. He had pleaded not guilty and denied being at the crime scene.
No one was injured in the attack. Repairs to the building cost 1-million krona (nearly €104,000, $111,000). The incident was listed by the White House among 78 "terror attacks" that were not properly covered in the media. Swedish prosecutors initially said the act was committed "in the name of Islamic State to seriously intimidate a population, in this case Muslim Shiites".
The man allegedly told a relative during a phone conversation on October 8 that he wanted to become a martyr. A spokesman for Swedish intelligence agency SAPO told the daily Sydsvenskan earlier this week that it wanted him deported from Sweden due to "security risks".