STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swedish man who fired sniper shots at foreign-looking people was found guilty of two counts of murder on Tuesday, highlighting racial tensions in the Nordic region traumatized by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik.
Peter Mangs was arrested in 2010 after a 12-month shooting spree in the southern Swedish city of Malmo.
The court found the 40-year-old Mangs guilty of the 2009 murder of a Swedish-born woman who was sitting next to an immigrant friend in a car when Mangs fired multiple shots. He was also convicted of murdering an Iranian-born man by shooting him in the chest in his apartment in 2003.
Mangs was also found guilty of four attempted murders during 2009 and 2010. The court heard how one victim was shot though a window while working out in a gym and another while waiting for a bus. Some of the shootings were in broad daylight.
Mangs will be sentenced, probably in September, after a psychiatric evaluation determines whether he should be committed to a psychiatric institution or jail. He had pleaded not guilty to all the serious charges, but guilty to two counts of causing property damage and he faces a possible life term.
Prosecutors said Mangs was obsessed with guns, hostile to immigrants and had an interest in Sweden’s “Laser man”, a racist gunman called John Ausonius who used a rifle equipped with a laser sight to shoot immigrants in the early 1990s. He was convicted of murder and nine attempted murders in 1994.
Like the July 2011 rampage by Breivik who killed 77 people in what he said was a stand against Muslim immigration, the Malmo attacks expose a vein of racist extremism in a region which prides itself on tolerance.
Roughly 40 percent of the population of Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, are first or second-generation immigrants and one in three is unemployed, compared with a national jobless rate just over 8 percent.
The sniper attacks have added to the city’s reputation for crime, alongside a spate of shootings police have attributed to gang crime.
Reporting by Mia Shanley; Editing by Robin Pomeroy