STOCKHOLM (AP) – The trial of an Uzbek man who has confessed to ramming a stolen truck into a crowd in downtown Stockholm last year, killing five and injuring 14, started Tuesday under heavy security.
Rakhmat Akilov appeared before the Stockholm District Court where he is charged with terror-related murder and attempted murder. The prosecution has requested that he gets a life sentence and is extradited from Sweden.
Wearing a green fleece jacket, Akilov, was flanked by his defense lawyers. He has said he wanted to punish Sweden for participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Throughout the nearly 10-month probe, Akilov has been cooperative, according to his lawyer and the prosecution.
Prosecutor Hans Ihrman described how Akilov drove a stolen beer truck into a crowd of shoppers on a busy shopping street outside an upscale department store in Stockholm’s city center. Akilov was arrested hours later.
“Yes, it was Akilov who drove the truck that day,” his defense lawyer, Johan Eriksson, told the court.
Five people were killed – a British man, a Belgian woman and three Swedes, including an 11-year-old girl.
Three interpreters were at hand during the trial, expected to end May 9. A verdict is expected before the summer.
Akilov had said he offered to the Islamic State group to carry out an attack in Stockholm on behalf of the group. It was not clear whether the group had accepted his offer.
Investigators have found internet chat logs with unknown people in which Akilov discussed becoming a martyr and swore allegiance to IS between Jan. 12, 2017, and the attack on April 7, as well as a memory card with “material that can be connected to IS,” including execution videos.
The construction worker, who was 39 at the time of the attack, was subject to deportation from Sweden ahead of attack as his asylum application had been rejected.
Akilov had been ordered to leave Sweden in December 2016. Instead, he went underground, eluding authorities’ attempts to track him down. Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency has said it had nothing indicating he was planning an attack.
Security was high Tuesday, with heavily armed police officers and scores of reporters going through metal detectors before entering the courtroom.