Swedish mother ‘kept son locked up for decades’

Swedish mother ‘kept son locked up for decades’
Police at the scene of an apartment where a woman is suspected of locking up her son, in Haninge, south of Stockholm, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Updated 01 December 2020

Swedish mother ‘kept son locked up for decades’

Swedish mother ‘kept son locked up for decades’
  • The man had infected sores on his legs, could barely walk, and had almost no teeth, limiting his ability to speak
  • The woman is suspected of illegal deprivation of liberty and causing bodily harm — allegations she denies

STOCKHOLM: A woman in Sweden suspected of holding her son captive inside their apartment for decades has been arrested, police said on Tuesday, with reports claiming the man was found undernourished with infected sores on his body and almost no teeth.
Stockholm police spokesman Ola Osterling told AFP the man had been “locked up for a very long time” in the apartment in a southern Stockholm suburb but refused to comment on local reports he had been held for 28 years.
Neighbours said they had not seen the son, now 41, for years — or ever.
Tove Boman, a 24-year-old who lives in the building next door, told AFP she had only seen the mother. “I grew up here so I’ve always known who she is and recognized her. She’s a little strange,” she said.
The Expressen and Aftonbladet newspapers reported that the woman had taken her son out of school when he was 12 and kept him locked inside the apartment since then.
An unnamed relative found the man on Sunday after the mother had been taken to hospital, Expressen reported.
The man had infected sores on his legs, could barely walk, and had almost no teeth, limiting his ability to speak, the reports said.
Osterling would not comment on those details, saying only: “The man is in hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening.”
The woman is suspected of illegal deprivation of liberty and causing bodily harm — allegations she denies.
Media reports suggested the mother was overly protective after having lost her firstborn son when he was three years old.
The relative said the mother had convinced the boy that everybody was out to get them and that she was the only one who could protect them.
The relative also told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper she had contacted social services several times over the years but was told no crime had been committed because the man was not physically locked up.
Police tape was stretched across the apartment’s door on Tuesday, and officers were seen leaving the scene around midday, an AFP photographer said.
The relative said the apartment, in a non-descript grey and yellow low-rise building in the working class suburb of Handen, looked like it had not been cleaned in years.
“There was urine, dirt and dust. It smelled rotten,” she told Expressen, adding that she had to wade through piles of rubbish to get through the hallways.
“I’m in shock, brokenhearted, but at the same time relieved. I’ve been waiting for this day for 20 years.”
Police are due to question the man and his mother in the coming days to determine what had happened.
Neighbours contacted by AFP expressed shock that the man could have been hidden for so long.
Kenth Svedberg said he had noticed an “unpleasant odour” coming from the apartment but it was “nothing I thought very much about.”
“What’s so scary is that it’s gone on for so many, many years,” he told AFP.
Many neighbors wondered why neither social services, the school nor any other authority ever checked in on the boy over the years.
One woman told Aftonbladet she found it odd that their window was never open, and the same candlestick had been in the window for 30 years.
“But what can you do? How do you know what’s going on behind closed doors? It’s all so awful, you can’t believe it’s true,” she said.


Portugal President Rebelo de Sousa wins new term in socially distanced ballot

Portugal President Rebelo de Sousa wins new term in socially distanced ballot
Updated 3 min ago

Portugal President Rebelo de Sousa wins new term in socially distanced ballot

Portugal President Rebelo de Sousa wins new term in socially distanced ballot
  • Strict hygiene rules in place as COVID-19 cases surge * Record abstention at 60%
  • 60% of voters abstained, the highest figure in Portuguese history

LISBON: Portugal’s center-right president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, won a second term on Sunday in an election marked by record abstention as the country battles a crippling third wave of coronavirus contagion.
The 72-year-old former leader of the Social Democratic Party, known for his warm persona and habit of taking selfies with supporters, won 61% of votes, above his 52% win in 2016.
Still, 60% of voters abstained — the highest figure in Portuguese history — in part because 1.1 million voters from abroad were added to the electoral register for the first time, but also due to hundreds of thousands of people in quarantine.
The president holds a largely ceremonial role but can veto certain laws and decree states of emergency, a power Rebelo de Sousa deployed often during the pandemic, taking parliament’s lead.
“The most urgent of tasks is to combat the pandemic. This is my priority, in total solidarity with parliament and government,” Rebelo de Sousa said in his victory speech.
Andre Ventura, a lawmaker for the far-right Chega party, narrowly lost out to left-wing candidate Ana Gomes in the fight for a distant second place, with 12% of the vote to Gomes’ 13%.
The result was nevertheless a significant jump for Ventura, a close ally of European far-right parties who dubs himself ‘anti-system’ and has fueled fears among rights groups for discriminatory views toward minorities. His party won just 1.3% of votes in the 2019 legislative elections.
Rebelo de Sousa, in an apparent dig at Ventura — whose campaign catchphrase was that he would represent the ‘good Portuguese’ and not those who lived off the state — vowed to be a president who “stabilizes, unites, who is not only of the ‘good’ against the ‘bad’.”

COVID-19 cases soar
Masked, socially distanced and using their own pens, voters were subjected to extensive measures by local councils to prevent contagion during the voting process.
Still, almost two-thirds of Portuguese thought the election should have been postponed because of the pandemic, a poll last week by research institute ISC/ISCTE showed.
“Since the date of the elections wasn’t changed, I decided to come early,” said Cristina Queda, 58, who arrived at her polling station in Lisbon as soon as it opened at 8 a.m. to “avoid groups and queues.”
The country of 10 million people is reporting the world’s highest seven-day rolling average of new cases and deaths per capita, according to Oxford University data tracker www.ourworldindata.org.
The number of COVID-19 deaths broke records for the seventh day in a row on Sunday at 275, with hospitalizations also at an all-time high and ambulances queuing for several hours at Lisbon hospitals full to capacity.
Portugal has posted a total of 10,469 deaths from COVID-19 and 636,190 cases.
Casting his vote at a Lisbon school, center-left Prime Minister Antonio Costa acknowledged the grave stage of the pandemic, but said that “everything was done for people to be able to exercise their democratic right to vote.”