A failed asylum-seeker accused of ramming a truck into a Stockholm crowd last week, killing four people, has confessed to committing a terrorist crime, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
Uzbekistan man Rakhmat Akilov, wanted for deportation at the time of Friday’s attack, made his first court appearance, entering the heavily guarded courtroom with a green sweater over his head and flanked by his lawyer and a translator.
Police say they believe the 39-year-old hijacked a beer truck and drove it into a busy pedestrian street in the Swedish capital before crashing into a department store. … police sources said he told them: ‘I am a Muslim and a support ISIS.’ He claimed the order to carry out the attack came directly from the terror group in Syria, Sweden’s Aftonbladet revealed. ‘The bombing in Syria needs to stop,’ he reportedly said while being interrogated.
Akilov, who was asked by the judge to remove the sweater from his head, made no comment at the start of the hearing. His lawyer, Johan Eriksson, told the court that his client had admitted the crime. ‘Akilov confesses to a terrorist crime and accepts his custody detention,’ When the judge asked for a plea Mr Eriksson said: ‘My client has confessed that he is responsible for these allegations.’
The judge then ordered the hearing to proceed behind closed doors.
Eriksson later told reporters outside the court that Akilov has described his motives to authorities, but the judge had ordered the lawyer not to discuss details of the case in public. “He has not just confessed. He has provided information, he is answering questions,” Eriksson said.
The judge on Tuesday remanded Akilov in custody for a month. Police have said it could take up to a year to complete the initial investigation into the attack.
Police say Akilov has expressed sympathies with extremist organisations. Security services have said that he had figured in intelligence reports but they had not viewed him as a militant threat.
A Facebook page appearing to belong to him showed he was following a group called “Friends of Libya and Syria”, dedicated to exposing “terrorism of the imperialistic financial capitals” of the United States, Britain and Arab “dictatorships”.
Legal documents show Akilov had asked for Eriksson to be replaced by a Sunni Muslim lawyer, but the court denied his request.