Elderly Swedish woman suspected of imprisoning son for decades released from custody

A relative told a Swedish newspaper the apartment "smelled rotten" with urine, dirt and dust. PHOTO: EPA-EFE, AFP

STOCKHOLM (REUTERS) - Swedish prosecutors said on Wednesday (Dec 2) they had released a woman suspected of holding her own son captive in their apartment for decades, but that the investigation was continuing.

The woman, who is 70, was arrested this week with police saying her now 41-year-old son had been "locked up for a very long time" in an apartment in a southern Stockholm suburb.

According to reports quoting an unnamed relative, he had been kept in the apartment for 28 years after being taken out of school.

The relative, later identified as the man's sister, had found him on Sunday after their mother had been taken to hospital, daily Expressen reported.

The man, who was immediately hospitalised for surgery, had infected sores on his legs and could barely walk, media said.

He had almost no teeth, limiting his ability to speak.

After police were alerted the woman was arrested on suspicion of illegal deprivation of liberty and causing bodily harm. She had denied the allegations.

"After the man was questioned during the afternoon today and from what else has been uncovered during the investigation the case has weakened against the woman," prosecutor Emma Olsson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Judging that the woman would not be able to damage the investigation, coupled with the weakened suspicions, Olsson said she had been released.

However Olsen stressed "the investigation has not been closed and the suspicions of a crime remain".

The case immediately garnered widespread attention in Sweden, as the sister painted a bleak picture of the state of the man and the apartment.

Remote video URL

"There was urine, dirt and dust. It smelled rotten," she told Expressen, adding that she had to wade through piles of rubbish to get through the hallway.

Neighbours contacted by AFP also expressed shock that the man could have been hidden for so long.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.