Imagine that you have a dad that tend to end up in problem with other people. Imagine that he one day ends up beating another guy up pretty badly, but you don't know if he attacked or defended himself or when the defense became an attack... Bad things happen, don't they? I guess most of us would be able to forgive our dad also this. We might even accept that he has to spend years in jail. But could you imagine that you and your entire family would to go to jail for what your dad had done?
Readers that have vivid memories of Eastern Europe under communist rule, including today's Moldova, might not have too big difficulties imagining even this. But who would imagine that this is happening in Sweden. The year is 2009.
The story has caused quite a lot of media attention in Sweden, more about that later. Recently Maciej Zaremba, a polish born Swedish journalist I hold in high esteem, published an article about what is definitely one of the most rotten juridical scandals in Sweden in modern times. It is called "Another view of Vojakkala".
The village Vojakkala is located in the very very north of Sweden, were people don't speak Swedish but a dialect of finnish called Meänkäli . As you might well imagine, this place is surrounded by myths about men who drink vodka and kill each other with knife from time to time. There is no chance for any police to know what actually happens there. So who would be surprised by a feud between neighbours? That's what those people do, isn't it?
Yes, there is a feud. On the one hand we have the odd family Grönfors. On the other hand a mafiotic group of villagers that claim that the Grönfors destroy their village, and therefor during years have boycotted them. The Grönfors' have not been able to shop in the store in their village store, or to fix cars in the village for years. Because they are... Grönfors.
13 May 2008 one of the neighbours, let's call him S, parked his car outside Grönfors house.S hated the Grönfors more than anyone else did. Strangely enough had gone to some length to hire the house next to theirs.
He walks out of the car and gets beaten down by Allan Grönfors. With an axe. This gives Allan eight years in jail. Fair enough I guess. Allan's sisters get eight months of jail for protecting him, and his brother and father gets 6 years each for planning and helping Allan. In Sweden you get 10 years for murdering someone, but the family Grönfors are sentenced en masse to 22 years of jail. Almost "a 25er" with Solemnization's words.
And after all there are som worrying details. The fact that the murdered S shows up in court with a bandage but as live as I am writing this might indicate that Allan didn't really try to kill him. If you try to kill someone with an axe and fail your a pretty lousy murderer. Allan said that he was afraid and acted in self defense. The two guns and 36 bullets found in S's pockets might indicate he was not there for a cup of coffee.
The Grönfors were not a normal family. Allan had problems with communicating with people and preferred to communicate with animals. The only person he could related to was his mother. The mother died and was buried in Finland. Allan used to travel 350 km every day to visit her grave.
Those who need a word for it say that he had Asbergers syndrome, a light for of autism. Everyone knew that Allan was odd. But if you left him alone he didn't trouble you.
Also S had a history, of course. He was not supposed to be on the spot at all, actually. The police had banned him from coming anywhere near Grönfors, after a serie of verbal attacks and threats. For example he put up loudspeakers next to Grönfors house, saying that he had take his mother from the grave and what he had did with her. Etc. etc.
S was maybe the most active in the anti-Grönfors camp. But he was not alone. A mafia of local shop owners backed him. On internet forums like this it was discussed on how the Grönfors should be dealt with.
Interestingly, none of the close neighbours, except for S himself have had any problems at all with the family.
This could have been just a tragedy. But in stead it turned into a scandal, when the court put some strange sense of "order" above law, and refused to listen to the defendants. It preffered to listen to an angered local opinion that wanted someone punished. An opinion that was served exactly what they wanted by mud crawling local and national media.
This story left such a bad taste in my mouth. It is a shame for Sweden, a country with a good reputation in other European countries. A reputation we owe to people like Zaremba.
Maciej Zaremba is one of the few that has stood up in this case. Not for Grönfors, but for justice. The family was not punished for the crimes committed but for who they were. They were Grönfors. And they were roma.