9 Jan 13
A father convicted of shaking his infant daughter to death has been granted a retrial by Sweden's Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) in a case that could result in a re-examination of other cases of "shaken baby syndrome".The now 31-year-old man was first convicted in 2005 for shaking his six-week-old daughter so violently that she suffered from fatal cerebral haemorrhaging.
But in a decision issued on Tuesday, the Supreme Court cited new evidence indicating that the man's daughter could have died from injuries caused by something other than violent shaking.
According to forensic medical expert Peter Krantz, who was quoted in the ruling, "today one can no longer rule out the possibility that the haemorrhaging in the meninges and injuries in the brain of this type can have other causes than bodily harm/shaking".
The man was first sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter and aggravated assault. He lodged a number of appeals, with the Supreme Court rejecting a previous retrial request back in 2008.
However, the man fled from Sweden before he began serving his sentence, managing to stay on the run until being arrested in Spain in 2010.
He was imprisoned in Sweden until last autumn when he was released while the Supreme Court reviewed his latest appeal.
"He's obviously very happy and relieved," the man's lawyer, Percy Bratt, told Sveriges Television (SVT) following Tuesday's decision that his client had been granted a retrial.
Medical expert Krantz told SVT it's possible the little girl's death was a result of clotting related to her premature birth.
He added that the diagnosis of "shaken baby syndrome" can be affected by trends in medical diagnosis which shift over time.
"The risk is that people become a bit too liberal in their diagnoses," he told SVT, adding that new thinking about the condition may result in more retrial requests.
"There may be parents in prison today who have been wrongly accused of causing their child's death."
The case will now be re-examined by the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden (Hovrätten för Västra Sverige).