STOCKHOLM: A Swedish court today sentenced three men to life in prison for killing a 12-year-old girl in a drive-by shooting that has become emblematic of Sweden’s soaring gang violence.
The shooting outside a fast-food restaurant south of Stockholm in August, 2020, shocked the Nordic nation, with two stray bullets hitting Adriana Ostrowska Naghei, 12, who later died from her injuries.
The Sodertorn district court convicted the three men of murder and attempted murder of seven others at the scene, including two whom the court concluded were the actual targets.
“It was a case of indiscriminate firing with automatic weapons in a place where there were several people and one of them died. The punishment can therefore only be life imprisonment,” judge Tore Gissin said in a statement.
Sweden has struggled to rein in a surge of shootings and bombings in recent years, as gangs settle scores fuelled by the narcotics trade.
The country registered 391 shootings in 2022, 62 of them fatal, up from 45 the previous year, according to police data.
Twelve innocent bystanders have been shot dead in gang violence since 2018, according to a tally published by Swedish news agency TT today.
A 2021 report by Sweden’s national council for crime prevention showed that among 22 countries with comparable data, only Croatia had more deadly shootings, and no other country posted a bigger increase than Sweden in the previous decade.
The rising violence was a major theme in the campaign leading up to Sweden’s general election in September last year.