Following the acquittal of five immigrants in the Fittja gang rape case despite strong evidence, which many Swedes perceived as a travesty of justice, independent journalist Joakim Lamotte, known for his contributions to the Göteborgs-Posten daily, launched a campaign to support the victim, which resonated well with his compatriots.
"A total of SEK 596,000 has been received. I'm rounding up and transferring SEK 600,000 [$72,000] to the women's legal representative Elisabeth Massi Fritz. This is done according to the wishes of the woman herself. Elisabeth Massi Fritz will manage the money for the woman so she can build a new life in the best way possible," Lamotte wrote on his Facebook page.
At the same time, 100,000 people have signed a petition in support of the woman.
"We demand that the legal system be changed," Emma Lindell, one of the initiators behind the name collection, told the Expressen daily. By her own admission, she felt angry and frustrated over the trial, in which the woman was "deceived by society," and felt responsible to make a change. "This is the least we can do. We want to show our support for the woman, so that she doesn't feel alone," Lindell explained.
"The law the way it seems today is not on our side. No matter who you are and what background you have, you are to be taken seriously. We want more rapists to be sentenced," Lindell said, pledging to contact Justice Minister Morgan Johansson after the turn of the year.
In a historic ruling presented on December 19, the Södertorn district court did not find sufficient grounds for convicting the men for the group rape that the woman claims to have been subjected to in broad daylight. The prosecution alleged the victim was brutally assaulted by up to 20 men in the stairwell of an apartment building. Two of the men on trial allegedly filmed the incident, although the court could find no evidence of this.
Senior Judge Erica Hemtke found the leading witness's account of the events "unreliable" and closed the case for lack of evidence. The mass acquittal in the notorious group rape case has stirred strong reactions across the Nordic country, which recently saw a dramatic increase in reported sex crimes in the midst of the #Metoo campaign in which tens of thousands of women protested harassment.
The victim's lawyer Elisabeth Massi Fritz is determined to take the case to the Court of Appeals.
"In the case, there is enough proof for a conviction against the five defendants, who give conflicting evidence," Massi Fritz told Aftonbladet.
Den här typen av mål måste högprioriteras av polisen. Det är oacceptabelt att polisen inte har gjort mer för att säkra bevisning och videodokumentationen som sägs finnas från brottstillfället. #Fittja pic.twitter.com/G808DWHubd— Elisabeth MassiFritz (@massifritz) 20 декабря 2017 г.
After the verdict, demonstrations in demand of a fair trial were held across the Nordic nation. Here is a video clip of a man telling female protesters in Fittja to "go home and cry" as the victim "was a junkie anyway."
On the other hand, though, Anne Ramberg, secretary general of the Swedish Bar Association, called the verdict "exceptionally well-written and unusually educational" in an opinion piece published by national broadcaster SVT.
The verdict was also supported by Swedish producer, songwriter and political activist Alexander Bard of the Army of Lovers. In a scorching tweet, Bard went on to attack "white bourgeoisie ladies" for wanting to imprison "migrant kids."
I'm so sorry, Swedish white bourgeois ladies, I understand how much you wanted the immigrant kids' gang rape in #Fittja to have happened to defend your worldview. But what if it never occured? Start by reading the police report and the court decision. Facts are not your feelings.— Alexander Bard (@Bardissimo) 20 декабря 2017 г.