STOCKHOLM — Once considered Sweden's worst serial killer, Sture Bergwall confessed to more than 30 slayings over three decades, and was convicted of eight murders.
Years later, he changed his mind and said his tales of slaughter, rape and even cannibalism were all lies, spawned by loneliness, a desire for attention and heavy medication.
In what has become a major embarrassment for the Swedish justice system, Bergwall's convictions are now being overturned one by one.
Courts that once found his chilling descriptions of the victims and the murder scenes enough proof to convict him now realize they may have been duped by a compulsive liar.
Five of his murder convictions have been annulled. On Friday, a court in northern Sweden ordered retrials in the remaining two cases.
New court proceedings may not be necessary. When retrials were ordered in the other five cases, prosecutors dropped the charges, citing lack of evidence instead of going to court.
Bergwall said he developed an “identity crisis” on discovering he was gay and started taking drugs at age 14.
Bergwall said he never killed anyone but molested three young boys in the late 1960s. After a bank robbery in 1990, he was found mentally unfit for prison and committed to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. It was during therapy sessions there, he said, that he claimed responsibility for a series of unsolved murders dating to 1964.
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