Att vårda







Bo Severin


In Sweden the police and the prosecutors are obliged also to gather evidence that is in favour of the suspect. The work and proceedings of the police in the case are taken to protocol. Interrogations are secured on tape, in the case of children, on videotape. If the prosecutor takes the case to court, the proto­cols and tapes are handed to the court for scrutiny. With some restrictions to protect private matters, that material will be public.

We had an outstanding professor, Arne Trankell, who developed what unfortunately was named withess psychology, but perhaps should have been called just evaluation of witness information. Trankell arranged 1980 The Stockholm Symposium on Witness Psychology, with participants from many countries. I was present as the only (!) Swedish judge. Among others, professor Elisabeth Loftus from the the US and professor Udo Undeutsch from Germany were present. There were also scientists from Great Britain, Japan, Denmark and Island.

Unfortunately Trankell died in 1984 and nobody could succeed him. Instead some psychologists in the tradition of Freud appeared and declared themselves experts, especially on the interrogation of children. Without documentation or registration on tape, they interrogated children in matters of abuse before the police was in charge. As you know, Freud was propagating the theory that psychic illness or trouble in most cases originated in sexual abuse in the childhood. He also believed in hidden memories. Rather many catastrophes ocurred. The judges were helpless.

A very important circumstance is that we honor something called “fri bevisprövning”, that is free admissibility of evidence. Which means that the parties are free to enter evidence of any kind, as long as it is relevant to the case. That, again, means that you can have a specialist, a professor or scientist present both the result of his investication of the actual problem, what the science or knowledge is on the subject and his own standpoint.

In many anglosaxon countries or states, the system forbids the presentation of different kinds of evidence. On the ground that the jurors are too prone to be influenced by authority or lack the competence to un-derstand. So they have rules concerning what is admissible and in practice a lot of shouting “objection”.

With us it works well without those rules about what is permissible.

In Sweden our kind of jurors are chosen for a period of four years and often reelected more than once. They serve perhaps 5-10 days a year and so get some experience. Then they take part in both evaluation of evidence and the outcome, but always toge-ther with and discussing under the guidance of the judge. Usually in my experience they are interested, awake and reasonable. Weak situations are emotionally loaded cases.

By the way, some British lawyers once visited some of my sessions. Afterwards they commented, positively, that I, the judge, hade been talking to the accused in a calm, conversational way, that everybody were sitting rather close and that the procedure seemed efficient compared with their experience. This is the way it is performed. There is a wish everywhere not to be pompous. It is effective.

Another point: We may admire British rhetoric, but do not use it very much. We prefer analyzing things in a low key, the word often shifting between the parties when the introductory positions have been presented.

So, in closing, I may be critical to some things here, but I would not exchange it in favour of the anglosaxon system.


In short: There has to be same investigation as in an ordinary case, some reasons for refusing are manifest, a prosecutor has - consent missing - to take the case to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court denies, the case is finished. If it accepts, the government can nethertheless refuse.

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