2018-02-13

Uzbekistani citizen pleads guilty in Stockholm truck attack

AFP

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Uzbekistani asylum seeker Rakhmat Akilov has pleaded guilty Tuesday (February 13) to terrorism charges for a Stockholm truck attack last April that killed five people.

Akilov, who turns 40 Wednesday (February 14), confessed to stealing a beer delivery truck on April 7 and driving down a bustling pedestrian shopping street to hit as many people as possible.

The attack killed three Swedes, including an 11-year-old girl, as well as a 41-year-old British man and a 31-year-old Belgian woman. Ten others were injured.

Police arrested Akilov soon after the attack. He confessed during questioning.

"The motive was to instigate fear and to get Sweden to end its participation in the coalition against the 'Islamic State' (IS)," Akilov's lawyer, Johan Eriksson, told the court.

Akilov, whose Swedish asylum application had been rejected in 2016, had sworn allegiance to IS.

Authorities investigate contacts

Investigators recovered several smartphone exchanges Akilov had with unidentified contacts on encrypted chat sites before, during and after the slayings.

During Tuesday's proceedings, the prosecution presented a list of his conversations on WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook and Zello, found on his phone.

Akilov had written a list of potential targets to one of his contacts, including a synagogue, a ferry transporting "sinners" and a nightclub.

"There are plenty of infidels here," he wrote.

While investigators continue to search for Akilov's contacts, investigators believe he acted alone and have therefore charged only him.

Prosecutors have said they will seek a life sentence and, thereafter, his expulsion from the Scandinavian country. A life sentence in Sweden varies but is on average 16 years.

Akilov's wife and four children had stayed behind in Uzbekistan.

Akilov is scheduled to address the court as of February 20. The case is to continue through May with a verdict due in June.

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