Swedish 'serial killer' cleared of all charges due to lack of proof

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - A Swedish man long considered Scandinavia's worst serial killer has been cleared of eight murders he once confessed to, after prosecutors Wednesday dropped their final charge against him.

The prosecution said it lacked proof that Sture Bergwall, 63, killed a 15-year-old boy who died on a cold winter night in northern Sweden in in 1976.

The convictions against Bergwall - for many years known as Thomas Quick - have been dubbed Sweden's grossest miscarriage of justice in recent times because of the ease with which he was found guilty of the eight murders, which occurred between 1976 and 1988.

"Today is a day of joy and a day of reflection," Bergwall wrote on his blog, demanding that a commission be set up to identify those responsible for "things going so wrong."

Bergwall, who is serving a life term in a psychiatric institution, was convicted of the boy's murder in 1994 based on his own testimony, which included macabre details of how he molested the body.

Remains of the victim, Charles Zelmanovits, were found in 1993 but a forensic examination failed to produce evidence that he was murdered.

"An overall assessment of the evidence currently available ...indicates that a murder conviction against Bergwall can no longer be envisaged," prosecutor Haakan Nyman wrote.

During therapy for an armed robbery conviction, Bergwall had confessed to all eight murders along with more than 20 others in Sweden, Norway and Finland - for which he was not tried.

He often described how he butchered his victims and in at least one case ate the body parts.

In December 2008, however, he suddenly retracted all his confessions, saying he had been craving attention at the time and had been heavily medicated by doctors.

He has since been acquitted in three cases, and had the charges dropped in the remaining five.