Why The Local’s assault case story could be a game changer for Sweden

How news of a controversial judgment in an assault trial is changing the debate about Sweden’s political and legal system.

“It’s a wake-up call,” Centre Party leader Annie Lööf told Aftonbladet, after The Local revealed that two lay judges appointed by her party had swung a court ruling based on what she labelled “Islamist” values.

Solna District Court in February acquitted a man of assaulting his partner in 2015, after the presiding judge and another lay judge were overruled by the other two lay judges. The verdict has been appealed, but what sparked debate in Sweden was not so much the conclusion as the apparent reasons behind the acquittal.

The judgment, apparently referring to the couple’s foreign and Muslim background, suggested it would have been more normal for the woman to speak to her family about the alleged assault rather than the police.