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Thanks, Julian!

A little letter from a nation most people don't think about.


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Thanks, Julian, for getting yourself into a pickle in Sweden. Most of us Swedes wouldn't have known how bad things were otherwise.

Most of us didn't know how Swedish jurisprudence took a turn into the ditch in 1991 when our beleaguered supreme court issued guidelines for convictions in sex crime cases where there's no evidence whatsoever and that annoying 'presumption of innocence' threatens to set defendants free.

Most of us didn't know that our supreme court told the justices of the high courts and district courts that it was now alright to convict on no evidence as long as the girl's story sounded plausible, and that it doesn't matter if the defendant's story is equally plausible - you still convict, you see - and that only when they found evidence the girl made the whole thing up could they acquit.

Estimates of false rape complaints in Sweden now go up to 50%. Rape complaints are used for all kinds of things. They're used to win custody battles, as are false complaints of child molestation. They're used to extricate hanky-panky women from embarrassing situations. They're used to make a pocketful of change - the going rate for a successful false rape complaint is $20,000. And they're used for revenge.

Imagine if you will a judicial system where anyone can file any false complaint under the sun, where the accused is immediately incarcerated in a remand prison regarded as one of the worst in the EU, where the period of incarceration without charges being brought or the case being brought to court has in the past stretched to fifteen months, and where defendants have to prove their innocence to walk free.

Imagine if you will a judicial system where prosecutors and public defenders work together to convict innocent people because it's good for their careers, where prosecutors and public defenders deliberately withhold exculpating evidence from the courts to get their convictions, where prosecutors and especially public defenders make bewildering sums of money by playing the game.

Imagine if you will a case where the chief witness is a three year old girl called upon to testify in detail about events she witnessed when she was but one and one half years old, and where the courts take testimony like that seriously and use it to convict.

Imagine if you will a judicial system where most judges aren't taught in the law, much less are wise practitioners of it, and where the unlearned can overrule the few judges who do have proper credentials.

Imagine a judicial system where appeals to the supreme court are blocked more and more, and where the supreme court is not allowed to question the judgement of the courts in the lower instances.

Imagine if you will a supreme court where one of the justices is a convicted child molester. A supreme court where the friendships of a justice weigh heavier than his sense of right and wrong and responsibility before the law.

Imagine a judicial system where a foreigner can be arrested in absentia on no evidence whatsoever, freed the following day when a new prosecutor finally sees the testimony, and where thereafter a third prosecutor with a known agenda comes in and reopens the case just closed.

Imagine a judicial system so screwy that counsel for complainants are allowed to make show trials in the media without being cited for contempt of court.

Imagine a judicial system so rotten that judges taking a basic test in jurisprudence answer incorrectly on an average of 63% of their questions.

Imagine a judicial system where half of all the justices admit they use their political agendas in rendering their verdicts.

Imagine a judicial system where an overwhelming number of justices believe it's OK to convict with no evidence at all, as long as you then mete out a lighter sentence.

Imagine a judicial system where justices, prosecutors, and public defenders regard themselves as belonging to an untouchable elite and socialise after court days together, often with heavy drinking.

Imagine if you will a judicial system where justices are often found sleeping through the trials.

Imagine a judicial system where justices admit they never listen to the evidence presented in the courtroom but instead rely on 'hunches'.

Imagine all that. No one is safe before the law or protected by the law in Sweden.

Most Swedes will never get burned by their legal system, as they don't run afoul of the law and are not victimised by it either. But what comfort is that for them when they know their system is broken, perhaps never worked right - that 'Swedish justice' is a game of 'Swedish roulette'?

Imagine. And most of us wouldn't have known if it weren't for the case of Julian Assange exploding onto the world stage. The case got people everywhere wondering what was wrong in the duckpond, and Swedes saw it too, many for the first time.

Julian Assange may have afforded the world fantastic things in the way of transparency, but one of the biggest for Swedes wasn't officially a leak at all.

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