• Sat
  • Aug 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:09am
NewsWorld
SWEDEN

Sweden's 'Hannibal Lecter' out to sue now he's out of psychiatric detention

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 March, 2014, 5:53am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 March, 2014, 5:53am

The man once considered Scandinavia's worst serial killer but who was later cleared of his crimes said that his lawyer was preparing a claim for damages, following his release after more than 20 years in psychiatric detention.

"What happened was lamentable; we're talking about murder verdicts in eight cases, something that should not happen," he said two days after his release, adding his lawyer had started to work on a claim for damages.

"The Swedish judiciary has been naive ... It's very frightening that I could have been convicted - and of course it raises the question of how many more innocent people have been convicted."

Sture Bergwall, 64, who used the alias Thomas Quick during the 1990s when he confessed to cannibalism and more than 30 murders, was sentenced to life imprisonment for eight of them and held at a psychiatric ward in Saeter in north-central Sweden since 1991.

He was later cleared of all the murders due to a lack of evidence, amid revelations that he had been heavily medicated at the time of the confessions and had made them in return for more drugs.

As a free man, he said he would spend his time walking in the countryside and writing a new book - a follow-up to his 2009 book Thomas Quick is Dead, a phrase he has often used to describe the point where he dropped the pretence of being a psychotic killer.

That point came in 2008 in a Swedish TV documentary in which he withdrew his confessions.

By then he had earned an international reputation as Sweden's Hannibal Lecter.

"As Thomas Quick the comparison is maybe true but Thomas Quick is dead and there ends all similarities," he said.

The court ruling that freed Bergwall said he still suffered from the same "personality disorder" and needed psychiatric treatment as an outpatient, which he contests.

"The chief medical officer and the whole forensic psychiatry unit is fighting for its reputation. They could hold me locked up year after year and now they don't hesitate to keep to a false diagnosis that others have completely rejected," he said.

"It's shameful and a part of this legal and healthcare scandal."

But some analysts suggest that a claim for damages may not be easy given that Bergwall contributed to putting himself behind bars by confessing to crimes he did not commit.

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