The National Board of Forensic Medicine in Sweden has admitted that it cannot fully assess the relapse risk of a man imprisoned for killing his seven year-old step-daughter in an ‘exorcism’. The 52 year-old was jailed for life after he killed the child on Christmas Eve 1999 during a prolonged attempt to ‘beat evil spirits’ out of her body.
The child and two others came to live with the man and his wife after leaving their home country of the Congo in 1999. Shortly after their arrival, the couple apparently began to hear unexplained noises, prompting them to conclude that a curse was haunting their home.
When one of the children awoke with scratches on Christmas Eve, the couple and another adult attempted to perform an exorcism, which consisted of beating out the bad spirits. The seven year-old died of her injuries.
The crime was “committed in an imaginary cultural context where the influence of evil spirits, witches’ spells and the power of curses are by no means strange, and are instead problems of an everyday nature,” the board reported. It added that the usual risk assessment methodology “lacks any experience of phenomena of this kind” and is therefore insufficient to assess the case.
It was observed, however, that the man has demonstrated a complete absence of “aggressive reactionary behaviour” during his time in jail so far, and that he has “completely distanced himself from his previous world-view which incorporated witchcraft, evil spirits and obsession”, reports The Local.
The board concluded that although the man seems to be at low risk of a repeat offence due to his exemplary behaviour in prison, it lacks the methods to assess his criminal past.