Afghan man gets life for March stabbing rampage in Sweden

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A 22-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker was convicted Wednesday of attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for a knife attack that injured seven people in a southern Swedish town earlier this year.

Tamin Sultani was shot by police and arrested after an 18-minute rampage on March 3. Investigators who dismissed terrorism as a motive charged him with seven cases of attempted murder.

The Eksjo District Court said Sultani will be deported after serving his time. He has said he wanted to go back to Afghanistan.

The life sentence, which doesn’t have a fixed time, is the most severe punishment in Sweden.

Sultani attacked seven men with a 22-centimeter (8.7-inch) blade in the small town of Vetlanda, about 190 kilometers (118 miles) southeast of Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city.

Three of the victims survived life-threatening injuries, two were seriously injured, two others were moderately injured and one individual was slightly hurt. Police initially said the attacker used an ax but it later turned out that Sultani was armed with a knife.

In its verdict, the district court said Sultani used a kitchen knife that he had picked up at his apartment “because he was so upset” about something blasphemous done to his god “and wanted to kill that person.”

“Nothing has emerged that that Tamim Sultani in advance had any plan to injure or attempt to kill the seven plaintiffs in the case,” the court said, adding he didn’t know the people he attacked.

However, the district court found that there was “a concrete danger” that those attacked would die and that Sultani “in all cases had directed violence against people’s vital organs.”

The court said ”it appears that he had avoided some schoolgirls” he met, noting Sultani had told that he understood the teenage girls laughed at him but “would be afraid of the knife, so he hid it” in his sleeve.

Sultani sought asylum in Sweden in 2016. During the trial, he said he hadn’t managed to get a job and only managed to work in various internships. When his temporary residence permit expired, he was no longer allowed to study or work.

Sultani claimed he twice attempted to commit suicide a week before the knife attacks,

“It was as if the brain had stopped working. I felt very bad mentally,” he told the court. A court-ordered psychiatric evaluation concluded that the man wasn’t mentally disturbed at the time of the attack and was fit for a prison sentence.

During the trial in a high-security courtroom, he confessed to three of the attacks and said he doesn’t remember the other four attacks but believes the victims’ accounts.

In November 2020, he had applied for a renewal of his temporary staying permit and the immigration authorities haven’t yet taken a decision.