The father and stepmother of a Swedish teenager have been charged with repeatedly burning and torturing the girl in an attempt to exorcise her.
According to prosecutors, the man and his wife, from Malmö, thought the 14 year-old was a witch who needed the demons forced out of her.
“According to the girl’s version of events, she has been subjected to being locked up, has had her feet tied together, assault through being burned with a red-hot knife in a torture-like manner and other violent rites and exorcisms,” prosecutor Daniel Larsson wrote in a statement. He added that a pastor, currently out of the country, is also being sought for questioning.
Both parents deny the charges, with the 37 year-old father claiming he only tried to help the “mentally unsettled” girl by seeking medical advice and consulting his church. “He says he knows of no violence against her at all,” defence lawyer Jan Elgmark told news agency TT.
One of the allegations against the 33 year-old stepmother is that she shaved the girl’s head and isolated her from her siblings so they would not be infected with “inherent evil”.
“My client hasn’t been privy to anything like that. But there are others who are under suspicion and it is possible that they have. However, it isn’t a criminal act to give someone a haircut,” defence lawyer Torkel Stenbäcken told TT.
Stenbäcken also denied that the woman had burnt the girl, but did confirm that some sort of exorcism had been performed.
“Yes, you could say that, but that isn’t a crime,” Stenbäcken told TT. “That’s religion and you’re allowed to practice that.”