STOKHOLM: A rejected Uzbek asylum seeker pleaded guilty to terrorism charges Tuesday for an April 2017 Stockholm truck attack that killed five people, after going underground in a city he described as full of “infidels.”
Rakhmat Akilov appeared handcuffed in Stockholm’s special high-security courtroom, wearing green prison clothes and with a shaved head and a beard, accompanied by his lawyer Johan Eriksson.
Akilov, whose Swedish asylum application had been denied in 2016, had sworn allegiance to Daesh on the eve of his assault in one of Europe’s safest cities, though the group never claimed responsibility.
On the afternoon of Friday, April 7, Akilov stole a beer delivery truck and barrelled down a bustling pedestrian shopping street, swerving wildly to hit as many people as possible.
Three Swedes were killed, including an 11-year-old girl, as well as a 41-year-old British man and a 31-year-old Belgian woman. Ten others were injured.
Rakhmat “Akilov took the truck … and drove it… He killed five people and physically injured 10,” his lawyer Johan Eriksson told the court adding: “The lives of a large number of people were put in danger.”
“The motive was to instigate fear and to get Sweden to end its participation in the coalition in the war against Daesh,” Eriksson added.
Akilov, who turns 40 on Wednesday, ended his rampage by crashing the truck into the facade of a department store and detonating an explosive device — made up of five gas canisters and nails — though it didn’t explode as planned and caused damage only to the truck.
Akilov fled the scene by running into a nearby metro station, and was arrested several hours later thanks to public transport video surveillance images.
He told investigators he had planned to die in the assault and confessed in police questioning. Investigators believe Akilov acted alone.
Uzbek police claim he tried to enter Syria from Turkey to join IS in 2015, but there is no proof of that.
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