Stockholm crash suspect 'tried to avoid deportation'

The royal family joined members of the public in Stockholm to observe a minute of silence for the victims.
The royal family joined members of the public in Stockholm to observe a minute of silence for the victims.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

STOCKHOLM • The main suspect in the Stockholm truck attack that killed four people is an Uzbek construction worker and father of four.

He is believed to have Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sympathies and went underground to avoid deportation from Sweden.

Swedish media quoted colleagues of Rakhmat Akilov saying he was not "particularly religious" and that he "partied and drank".

The 39-year-old is accused of barrelling a stolen beer truck down a busy pedestrian street last Friday, mowing down shoppers before smashing into a department store. Of the four killed, two were Swedes, including an 11-year-old girl, as well as a British man and a Belgian woman. Fifteen others were injured.

Sweden yesterday observed a minute of silence for the victims, led by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and most of the royal family.

The suspect was arrested last Friday evening in Marsta, 40km north of Stockholm, after police traced his zig-zag escape from the crash scene. Blood-stained and with shattered glass in his clothes, he took a subway train and headed for the airport but, then, took a bus to Marsta where he was arrested behind the wheel of a van.

Expressen newspaper claimed on Sunday that Akilov had allegedly confessed to the crime, telling investigators he was "pleased with what he had done" and had "accomplished what he set out to do".

According to police, he applied for permanent residency in 2014. He was rejected last year and told he had four weeks to leave the country.

Police official Jonas Hysing said: "In February this year, the case was handed over to the police, since the person had gone underground."

Police said he was known to have "shown sympathies for extremist organisations" such as ISIS. Expressen said several of his Facebook contacts were linked to the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

A woman at an address where Akilov was registered told Aftonbladet newspaper he did not appear radicalised. "He never talked about politics or religion. He didn't pray five times a day, from what I know," she said.

After losing his job this year, Akilov had spent his days "smoking and sleeping", said a former colleague.

AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Stockholm crash suspect 'tried to avoid deportation''. Print Edition | Subscribe