Uzbek man pleads guilty to Stockholm terror attack killing five people

The trial of an Uzbek man who has confessed to ramming a stolen truck into a crowd in Stockholm last year, killing five people and injuring 14 others, started on Tuesday under heavy security.

Rakhmat Akilov appeared at Stockholm District Court, where he is charged with terror-related murder and attempted murder.

File image of Rakhmat Akilov.

The prosecution has requested that he gets a life sentence and is extradited from Sweden.

Akilov appeared in court wearing a green fleece jacket and flanked by his defence 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 investigation, Akilov has been co-operative, according to his lawyer and the prosecution.

Prosecutor Hans Ihrman said Akilov drove a stolen beer truck into a crowd of shoppers in a busy shopping street outside an upmarket department store in Stockholm's city centre. Akilov was arrested hours later.

"Yes, it was Akilov who drove the truck that day," his defence lawyer, Johan Eriksson, told the court.

The dead included Briton Chris Bevington, 41, who worked as a director with music streaming service Spotify and was based in Stockholm with his family.

The others were a Belgian woman and three Swedes, including an 11-year-old girl.

Three interpreters were on hand during the trial, which is expected to end on May 9. A verdict is expected before the summer.

Akilov had said he offered to carry out an attack in Stockholm on behalf of Islamic State, and had gathered information about possible targets. It was not clear whether the terror 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 January 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 there was nothing to indicate he was planning an attack.

Security was high on Tuesday, with heavily armed police officers and scores of reporters going through metal detectors before entering the courtroom.

- PA



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