ISIS supporter sent to life in prison over Sweden attack

Uzbek man who carried out a ramming attack in Stockholm last year sentenced to life for terrorist crimes.

Ben Ariel ,

Ramming attack in Stockholm
Ramming attack in Stockholm

An Uzbek man who carried out a ramming attack which killed five people in Sweden last year has been sentenced to life for terrorist crimes, the BBC reported on Thursday.

Rakhmat Akilov, 40, had expressed sympathy for the Islamic State (ISIS) group before the attack in Stockholm, but prosecutors had to prove he intended to harm the state, as ISIS did not say it was behind the attack.

Akilov, a rejected asylum seeker, fled the scene but was quickly arrested and confessed during police interrogation.

He left Uzbekistan for Sweden in 2014 and sought residency there, but in December 2016 he was told that he had four weeks to leave the country.

He disappeared and, a few months before the attack, was put on an official wanted list.

On April 7 of last year, Akilov hijacked a lorry and drove it at high speed down one of Stockholm's busiest shopping streets and into a department store, killing five and injuring 10 others.

Police discovered an explosive device inside the lorry which was made up of gas canisters and nails. It did not explode properly and only caused fire damage to the vehicle, according to the BBC.

Akilov reportedly ran from the scene still covered in blood and glass, but was arrested hours later in a northern suburb of Stockholm.

He quickly confessed during police interrogation.

"He acted with the direct intention to kill as many people as possible," the court said in its verdict.

As well as the five murders, he was found guilty of the attempted murders of 119 other people who were at the scene of the attack.

Life sentences in Sweden typically amount to about 16 years. A spokesperson for Stockholm District Court confirmed to the BBC that Akilov will remain in the country during this time and is not expected to be transferred to a prison in Uzbekistan. After his jail term he will be deported from Sweden and banned from returning.

During the trial, Akilov said he wanted to punish Sweden for its part in the global fight against ISIS jihadists.