Murder trial gets underway for Malmö sniper suspect

Security high as Swedish murder suspect appears in court for first time

Peter Mangs, the man suspected of a series of racially-motivated shootings which killed three people in Malmö, appeared in district court amid tight security on Monday for the start of his murder trial.

Extra police were on duty and the street outside the Malmö courtroom was blocked as the trial got underway. Mangs was seated behind bullet-proof glass.

The 40-year-old Mangs is on trial for the three murders in connection with a series of shootings which targeted victims with immigrant backgrounds. He is charged with killing two men of immigrant origin in 2003 and one Swedish woman who was sitting in a car with a male immigrant in late 2009.

Mangs was also charged with 12 attempted murders. He is alleged to have fired shots at homes, businesses and cars, seriously injuring a number of people.

About 30 journalists from eight countries were on hand to hear chief prosecutor Solveig Wollestad open Monday morning's proceedings by reading the indictment against Mangs.

“There was a certain amount of xenophobia and a hostile attitude towards people with criminal backgrounds," Wollestad said during her statement.

According to the Swedish newspaper Skånska Dagbladet, Mangs looked relaxed as the charges against him were read.

Mangs has been in custody since his arrest in November, which came after police established a special unit to hunt down the serial sniper that had been terrorising Malmö, especially the city’s immigrant community. Up to a quarter of Malmö’s 300,000 residents are immigrants.

Mangs is also charged with two cases of aggravated assault, aggravated judicial tampering and two counts of criminal damages.

The evidence against Mangs includes firearms discovered by the police, cartridge cases found at crime scenes, emails and telephone records.

A preliminary psychiatric study suggested that Mangs may suffer from mental disorders. The court could order that a more extensive examination be conducted.

More than 50 witnesses are expected to testify during the trial, which is expected to last until mid-July.

Mangs has denied the charges against him.