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A Swede in Germany

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TV and defamation of the dead / Follow-up: Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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Almost exactly fifteen months ago, I wrote about the absurd and grossly unethical attempts to paint a dead man as the murderer of Olof Palme. (Also see several other follow-ups.)

Among other things:

Here we have a potentially innocent man who will be considered the murderer by great swaths of the population and many history books—who has no chance to say anything in his defense.

This fear now risks being cemented: Netflix has released a TV series, which appears* to push this very angle—he did it. For those who can read Swedish, great amounts of discussion can be found in the comments to a Swedish article ([1]).

*I have not, and will not, watch it myself. I go by claims by those who have seen it, including in [1].

This is the more absurd, as my readings since my original text point very strongly to the accusations being faulty. To the degree that they are not faulty, the evidence is so slim that the prosecution would have been laughed out of court, had the alleged murderer still been alive and been brought to trial. Of course, not even all Swedes will have done corresponding readings, and international viewers of this series are quite unlikely to have done so.

No, for many, it will be “I know that he did it—I saw it on TV”.

Excursion on “based on a true story”, etc.:
Generally, even when no immediate fear of major defamation is present, I tend to avoid series and movies that are “based on a true story”, as they tend to be poorly made, necessarily will contain at least some (often considerable) distortion of reality, almost necessarily will be partial, and as they tend give grave mischaracterizations of at least some of the characters.

Similarly, I often react negatively to the inclusion of real historical characters in otherwise fictional works.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 12, 2021 at 7:52 am

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No defamation charges against Krister Petersson (murder of Olof Palme)

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In an earlier text, I noted that prosecutor Krister Petersson risked prosecution, himself, for defamation of a dead suspect for the murder of Olof Palme ([1]; cf. [2] for more context).

It appears that he will remain unprosecuted:

A (likely paywalled*) Swedish site cites the överåklagare** Anders Jakobsson as saying:

*This newspaper usually is. Currently, 2020-08-19, it claims that all articles are free until September 1st.

Min bedömning är att Krister Petersson visserligen pekat ut en person på ett sätt som kan vara förtal enligt brottsbalken, men sedan är frågan om det var försvarligt att lämna ut namnet. Och det anser jag. Mordet på Olof Palme och den utredning som sedan har genomförts har varit föremål för ett betydande allmänintresse, och i massmedierna och av så kallade privatspanare har den så kallade Skandiamannen vid flera tillfällen pekats ut som mördaren. Då menar jag att med hänsyn till dessa omständigheter har det varit försvarligt av Krister Petersson att i sitt beslut namnge den personen.

Translation:*
My estimation is that Krister Petersson did point out a person in a manner that could be defamation according to brottsbalken [roughly, “criminal code”], but then the question is whether it was justifiable to provide the name. And I am of that opinion. The murder of Olof Palme and the investigation that followed has been of considerable interest to the public, and in mass media and by so called privatspanare** the so called Skandiamannen*** has been pointed out as the murderer on several occasions. Then**** I opine that, with consideration of these circumstances, it has been defensible for Krister Petersson to name this person in his decision.

*The original is in overly complicated and poor “government language”. I have not made any greater attempts to provide additional clarity or to translate into a more English idiom (governmental or otherwise).

**A term that probably arose during the Palme investigations, to refer to amateur investigators with an interest in the Palme murder. A somewhat literal translation is “private scouts”, but “investigator” is likely more idiomatic than ‘scout”. These, however, are typically not “private investigators” in the U.S. “P.I.” sense.

***An anonymizing alias commonly used for the man whom Krister Petersson mentioned by name.

****Translation of the idiomatically awkward word “då”, which I will discuss in a later text.

I am far from certain that I would concur with the above, as I am highly skeptical to “the public has the right to know” arguments,* as fingering Skandiamannen seems unnecessary to me, and as there was no true gain from mentioning him by name (as opposed to alias). Note that Anders Jakobsson, himself, uses the alias and not the name. Krister Petersson could simply have said something like “Personally, I favor Skandiamannen, but as things stand, we can never know for sure.”, but he went a fair bit further and did mention the name. I stress that I would see a considerably stricter standard for a public official speaking in his official capacity than I would for a private individual expressing his private opinions, including the privatspanare.

*Excepting matters that are truly of public interest and public nature, say governmental policy, professional misbehavior by politicians and civil servants in office, and similar. The fact that Palme was murdered qualifies, that this-or-that celebrity has a drug problem does not, and whether Krister Petersson’s statements is on the right side of the border is disputable.

As an aside, I would not necessarily reason “it is very easy to find out the name of Skandiamannen; ergo, there is no harm done in mentioning the name over the alias”, as Anders Jakobsson might have. The opposite might be more reasonable (“[…]; ergo, we should not mention the alias either”).

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August 19, 2020 at 12:17 pm

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Blogroll update / Follow-up: Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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After a recent text on absurdities around the Palme murder I did some reading on other people’s reactions (and the murder in general). Gratifyingly, for once, most debaters seem to have agreed with me.

Indeed, some have even attempted to have Krister Peterson, the prosecutor* in charge, prosecuted … For instance, a Swedish source, claims that three notable Palme debaters have filed a complaint concerning “förtal av avliden” (“defamation of the dead”) with Riksåklagaren**.

*A word that did not occur to me during the writing of the original text. (Should someone wonder at the inconsistency.)

**In U.S. terms, a hypothetical “Prosecutor General”.

Generally, this blog has a wealth of information and discussion around (lately) the Krister Peterson fiasco and why he was wrong to proceed as he did, and (for years) the Palme murder and investigation. The author, Gunnar Wall, has himself written several books on these and other topics (that might also be discussed on the blog).

While I have not attempted to go through more than several of the older posts, it can make a worthy blogroll entry—especially, if it it makes the pressure on Krister Peterson a little higher.

The blog is entered on my Swedish blogroll:

https://gunnarwall.wordpress.com/

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July 2, 2020 at 8:51 pm

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Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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As I visited my father in February, Swedish TV made a lot of noise about the 1986, still unsolved, murder of Olof Palme—new hotshot investigator Krister Petersson* announced that the time for big revelations was upon us. In just a few months (why the wait?) he would either announce** the perpetrator or (!!!) close the investigation.

*Not to be confused with Christer Pettersson, who was once convicted (and later acquitted) of this very murder. Cf. below.

**This is a while back, so I do not remember the exact formulations, what he said and what the media speculated, etc. The “announce” is the likely minimum for Krister Petersson; he might or might not also have spoken about arresting someone, but some media certainly did. Other speculation included that the murder weapon had been found. This speculation was not quashed by Krister Petersson. This is the odder, because today’s claims include that it would be impossible to match the bullets fired at Palme to any given weapon—something that must have been know for a very long time (if true).

My spontaneous reaction was that Krister Petersson was more interested in making publicity for himself and that the result would be the “or”, that the investigation would be closed.

Today, 10th of June, was the day for the big revelation, almost four (!) months later. The result: the investigation is being closed …

True, he did also name his candidate for the culprit, but one that had been on the table for decades and who was long dead. In other words, we do not have an interesting revelation but just a rehash with a little more (claimed) certainty—not quite as bad as “Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK!”, but not much better either.

Moreover, because the accused murderer, Stig Engström is conveniently dead, there will be no trial and he will not be able to defend his name, e.g. by providing new exculpating evidence—and he will certainly not be able to file a libel suit or otherwise strike back. Here we have a potentially* innocent man who will be considered the murderer by great swaths of the population and many history books—who has no chance to say anything in his defense.

*An important word: I do not claim that he necessarily is innocent. He might be an innocent man who made a convenient scapegoat; he might be guilty and crucified without due process.

An additional aspect is that his death is the justification to close the investigation: “We know whodunit; ergo, it is a waste of time to look for someone else. The murderer is dead; ergo, it is a waste of time to spend more resources on him. Double-ergo, we can close the investigation in good conscience.”

The whole situation reeks.

What would a good investigator have done? He would (a) have skipped the publicity making in February, (b) closed the investigation without naming names (even if he was personally convinced), (c) accepted that this was not his stepping stone to fame and fortune.

The exact timing of events might be coincidental, but it is an oddity that today’s revelation appear to be just short of twenty years after Stig Engström died (“26 June 2000”, according to the linked-to Wikipedia article), while the original publicity came shortly* before the anniversary of Palme’s death.

*I do not remember the exact timing, but it was likely after the 20th of February. The murder took place on the 28th (in 1986). Also note that Stig Engström has been dead for the clear majority of the time since the murder—twenty years out of thirty-four and change.

Moreover, irrespective of whether Stig Engström was the murderer, the investigation has resulted in at least one grave miscarriage of justice—what in Sweden is dramatically called a “justitiemord”*. Either he is innocent, and then he is a victim; or he is guilty, and then Christer Pettersson was a victim; or, maybe, both were victims. (Barring some conspiracy setting, where they were both, somehow, involved in the murder.) Who then is Christer Pettersson? A petty criminal, drug user, and mental patient, who in 1989 (!) was convicted for the very same murder that is now pinned on Stig Engström. Mere months later, the conviction was overturned, but by that time, virtually everyone in Sweden knew him by both name and sight—and many still considered him the killer, many more** the prime suspect.

*Literally, either “murder of justice” or “murder by justice” (either justice it self has been murdered or justice has committed the murder, in both cases metaphorically). I am uncertain which is historically more warranted, but I always understood it as the former as a child and this matches the textual shape of the English “miscarriage of justice” better—hence, the dramatic title of this text. (If there is a connection to the English “judicial murder”, the meaning has drifted considerably.)

**Including yours truly, until I left Sweden in 1997 and lost track of the investigation.

Christer Pettersson, incidentally, died in 2004: If the two main candidates have been dead for sixteen and twenty years, respectively, then closing the investigation with a generic “It is highly unlikely that we will find revolutionary new clues after more than thirty-four years of very little success and, if we do, there is a considerable risk that the culprit is dead anyway. Besides, the witnesses are dying* too.” seems justifiable.

*Notably, the main witness, Palme’s wife, is also dead. I have not investigated the more secondary witnesses, but even if they are alive, thirty-four years is far, far too long for someone to remain a reliable witness.

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June 10, 2020 at 2:14 pm

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False rape charges in Germany, Jörg Kachelmann

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Through a comment on a German blog post on the Assange casee, my attention was directed to an article in Die Zeitw giving a thorough review of the Kachelmann casee: Famous man stands accused of rape and sees his world collapse on the word of a woman—and as time goes by, the evidence against him proves to be flimsy at best.

(So far, I have not really paid attention to this case. The Assange case is different in that Anna Ardin was someone I was aware of and irritated at before she raised her accusations. It has, however, been given considerable media attention in Germany during the last year, even with a blog dedicated to Jörg Kachelmann und das Chaose.)

As a complement to my earlier article on rape statistics, I will make a few quotes pertaining to the general attitude shown and the actual numbers of true versus false accusations:

(Note: The language is often technical or highly idiomatic. I try to bring the correct meaning across without always adhering to the correct “legalese” or being idiomatically true.)

Die Staatsanwaltschaft Mannheim hatte in der Öffentlichkeit stets den Anschein erweckt, es existierten objektive Beweise für die Täterschaft des Angeklagten. Die Hauptverhandlung aber hat über die vergangenen Monate die Behauptung von der überzeugenden Spurenlage widerlegt.

(The DA’s office in Mannheim always gave the impression in public that objective evidence existed for the guilt of the accused. However, the trial has over the past months refuted the claim of convincing evidence.)

Dass der Fall Kachelmann zu einem Mammutverfahren ausufern konnte, dessen Ende nicht abzusehen ist, hat auch damit zu tun, dass die Ermittler der Opferzeugin über viele Wochen begegnet sind, ohne ihre Aussagen kritisch zu hinterfragen. Der Fall Kachelmann zeigt beispielhaft, dass kein mögliches Opfer eines Sexualdelikts in diesen Tagen mehr Angst vor Behörden haben muss. Das von Polizei und Justiz zusätzlich gedemütigte und drangsalierte Vergewaltigungsopfer ist ein Phänomen aus der Nachkriegszeit, längst überwunden, gleichwohl von Frauenrechtlerinnen immer noch gerne beschworen.

(That the case Kachelmann could degenerate into such a mammoth process, the end of which is not yet in sight, is also a dependent on the investigators having met the “victim-witness” over many weeks, but without critically questioning her statements. The case Kachelmann shows exemplary that no possible victim of a sex crime has to fear the government these days. The victim who was additionally humiliated and harassed by the police and the justice system is [was] a phenomenon of the post-war era [i.e. a limited time after WWII], long conquered, yet still ever called upon by members of the women’s rights movement.)

Außerdem gehe er grundsätzlich davon aus, »dass jemand, der einen anderen einer Straftat bezichtigt, wahrheitsgemäße Angaben macht«.

(Besides, he [the judge] has the basic assumption, “that someone who accuses someone else of a crime, tells the truth”.)

Die Gutachten des Sachverständigen vom Frühjahr 2010 standen damit im Gegensatz zur Überzeugung der Staatsanwaltschaft. Als Bernd Brinkmann schließlich zum Prozessauftakt als von der Verteidigung geladener Sachverständiger in Mannheim erscheint, wird er behandelt wie ein Feind.

(The expert opinions of [Bernd Brinkmann] from early 2010 were consequently in opposition to the conviction of the DA. As Bernd Brinkmann appears as an expert witness for the defense at the beginning of the process, he is treated like an enemy.)

Früher sei man in der Rechtsmedizin davon ausgegangen, dass es sich bei fünf bis zehn Prozent der vermeintlichen Vergewaltigungen um Falschbeschuldigungen handelte, inzwischen aber gebe es Institute, die jede zweite Vergewaltigungsgeschichte als Erfindung einschätzten.

(Earlier, the assumption in forensics was that five to ten percent of the alleged rapes were false accusations. Meanwhile, however, there are institutes that estimate that every second rape story is a fabrication.)

In Püschels Opferambulanz haben sich im Jahr 2009 genau 132 Vergewaltigte vorgestellt: Bei 27 Prozent der Frauen hielten die Ärzte die Verletzungen für fingiert, bei 33 Prozent für echt. Bei den restlichen 40 Prozent haben die Hamburger Rechtsmediziner nicht ermitteln können, wer der Urheber der Blessuren war: der beschuldigte Mann oder das Opfer selbst.

(In Püschel’s [an interviewed professor] victim ambulance, exactly 132 [alleged] rape victims presented themselves in 2009: For 27 per cent of the women, the physicians considered the injuries to be fabricated, for 33 per cent genuine. For the remaining 40 per cent, the Hamburg forensics could not determine who the creator of the injuries was: the accused man or the [alleged] victim.)

Written by michaeleriksson

February 27, 2011 at 3:37 am

Rape statistics

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Due to the (in my impression so far) absurd arrest of Julian Assange, I have seen a number of recent threads around the topic of rape. There are several oft repeated faulty claims made that I wish to address here, based on a stereotypical comment. Unfortunately, the post and the comment threade appear to have been deleted in the mean time, but to summarize from memory:

  1. Only 2 % of all rape charges are false. [Very, very incorrect.]

  2. Only one in five of all rapes are reported. [Impossible to know, but very likely an exaggerated claim.]

  3. Only 10 % of all reports lead to a conviction. [Semi-true, but highly misleading.]

  4. Rape accusers are treated worse than the alleged rapist, have problems through not being believed, or similar. [Very incorrect and/or misleading.]

My original reply (translated to English):

The “2 %” claim is no longer taken seriously and there is reason to believe that it simply is made up (cf. the links below). Even the claim that only one in five rapes is reported is very far from being a consensus number, and could very well be something that feminists babble about for rhetorical purposes.

A quick search for “false rape charges” gave, among others, the following links:

http://www.falserape.net/false-rape.htme

http://www.falserape.net/falserapeafa.htme

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,194032,00.htmle

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2004/12/2_false_rape_st.htmle

http://www.billoblog.com/?p=134e

(In addition, I recommend http://falserapearchives.blogspot.com/2010/01/false-rape-primer.htmle as a source for further links.)

To dig a little deeper:

  1. Claims about false reports and under-reporting:

    The true rate of false reports is at a minimum 20 % and may be as high as 60–70 % based on the above links. To note, however, is that a false accusation is not always made deliberately, but (depending on the definitions used in any particular piece of research) can include mistakes of identity made in good faith. This distinction is of low relevance when it comes to “innocent until proved guilty”, but is important to bear in mind in other contexts—e.g. when some feminist commenter starts a rant about how misogynistic it would be to claim that half of all rape accusers are liars.

    The “one in five” is possibly caused by feminist mis-definitions of “rape” to include things that the law, a sensible person, and the alleged victim herself, do not consider anything of the kind. Notably, it is not uncommon for such mis-definitions to artificially inflate the number of claimed rapes to several times its true size.

    An interesting perspective is provided by a post that I encountered a few months ago, which contained roughly the following line of discussion (I apologize for not being able to give due credit):

    If the probability of a man committing a rape is p-rape and the likelihood that a woman will raise a false accusation is p-false, and further assuming that the two factoids of 2 % and one in five are true, then the number of reported rapes per male (or female) citizen is roughly 0.2 * p-rape + p-false. Further, by assumption, the quotient (0.2 * p-rape) / p-false would be 0.98 / 0.02 = 49. By implication, p-rape = 245 * p-false. In other words, men would have to be 245 (!!!) times more likely to commit rapes than women to make a false accusation—a claim that is so patently absurd and misandristic that the mind boggles.

    Even running through this calculation with a non-false report rate of 50 % (instead of 20 %) and a false report rate of 20 % (the minimum from serious investigations, instead of 2 %), we land at p-rape = 8 * f-false. In other words, men would still need to be eight times more prone to commit rapes than women to commit false accusations. Based on my experiences with men and women to date, I find this extremely hard to believe, and am correspondingly inclined to assume that the rate of false accusations is noticeably higher than 20 % (and possibly that the report rate is noticeably above 50 %—under no reasonable circumstances can it be the lowly 20 % claimed by some feminist propagandists). Here, however, it can make a difference whether deliberate false accusation or false accusations in general are discussed (cf. above).

  2. Conviction rates:

    I have been unable to find Swedish statistics (the alleged 10 % was with reference to Sweden) on short notice; however, I did find a very interesting article on the British situatione, where alleged numbers of just 10 % and 6.5 % are discussed. In a nut-shell: The true rate of conviction, after removing e.g. instances ruled as “no crime”, is roughly 50 %. The 10 % number is here referred to as “rate of attrition”, to which the article gives the following numbers for murder, rape, and “violence against the person”: 14 %, 6.5 %, and 4 %. Correspondingly, the rate is by no means remarkable. When considering the higher rate of false accusations for rape, the greater practical problems to provide proof that a crime has at all taken place, the possibility that a conviction is made for a lesser crime (cf. snoozeofreason’s comment to the article), whatnot, my subjective impression is that the rate for rape is higher than it should be when using other crimes as a baseline. I strongly recommend reading the linked-to article.

    The greatest error here, however, is to make the a priori assumption that almost all accused are guilty and to claim that a conviction/attrition rate of 10 % would imply that the justice system is defect. Notably, it is equally possible to turn the situation around and see the low conviction/attrition rate as a proof of many false accusations.

    More generally, a high conviction/attrition rate is only good when “false positives” can be kept down: Achieving a “perfect” conviction rate would not be hard, but doing so would fill the prisons with innocent people. Making convictions is not an end in it self—what matters is sentencing so many guilty as possible without putting innocent people in prison.

  3. Treatment of the accusers and the accused:

    Frankly, this sounds mostly like yet another case of feminists claiming the exact opposite of the truth with the philosophy that if a lie is repeated often enough, it is eventually taken to be the truth. (For a discussion of some other common examples, see an earlier post. Note also my recent post on Reversing the accusation, which deals with a similar subject.)

    There may, obviously, be great variations from country to country, but in Sweden and the US (cf. e.g. the Duke Lacrosse casee) the opposite problem of presumption of guilt, lack of due process, findings of guilt based solely on the accusers claims, and similar appear to be more common. Notably, in some countries, rape-shield laws and similar mechanisms can even make an inequality in front of the law (to the disadvantage of men) near unavoidable.

    It is important to note that the alleged “poor treatment” is often nothing more than normal investigative techniques used against anyone raising an accusation of crime: The police, the DA, the defense, must all be entitled to ask questions to probe for contradictions and implausible statements in order to get to the truth—and this must be so for all crimes or the justice system will fail as innocent people are jailed and deliberate false accusations rise. Rape cannot and must not be an exception to this.

    (Indeed, I have even repeatedly heard complaints that use of the word “alleged”, non-use of the words “victim” and “offender”, and similar, would constitute mistreatment—claims that themselves are a horrifying neglect of the legal principle of “innocent until proved guilty”, intellectual honesty, and, frankly, basic human decency.)

    The fact that (in Sweden) 38 % of all judges, 48 % of all prosecutors, and two thirds of all legal students are women makes the claim that rape accusers would be poorly treated even harder to defend—unless we assume that this mistreatement would largely stem from other women… (Numbers from 2008e; the current numbers are likely to be even higher.)

Remark: Note that it is very important to be cautious when interpreting various surveys, statistics, etc., concerning crimes. Not only do we have the problem of feminist distortions, but also one of different criteria and definitions, uncritical handling of sources, and similar. A particular important factor is time: The number (both absolute and relative) of horse and cattle thieves in the “Wild West” is likely to be considerably lower today than two hundred years ago. Similarly, any other statistic that is not reasonably recent must be re-investigated before being brought in as a hard fact—including crime rates, report rates, speculations on unreported crime, etc., from even just a few decades ago.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 10, 2010 at 10:09 am