Death of Alexandra Mezher

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The death of Alexandra Mezher occurred on 25 January 2016. Mezher, a 22-year-old worker at the center, was allegedly stabbed by a male asylum seeker at a refuge for unaccompanied minors in Mölndal, Sweden. The attacker was initially identified as a 15-year-old male from Somalia, but he was later determined to be at least 18 years old.

Background

More than 160,000 applications for asylum were accepted in Sweden in 2015; that total included 35,400 unaccompanied minor refugees.[1] The attack occurred in the midst of growing concern about asylum seekers and crime; national attention was riveted on the issue by several incidents, including the fatal stabbings of two shoppers in an IKEA store in August 2015, and the sexual assaults of teenage girls at music festivals in 2014 and 2015. Documented violent incidents and threats at asylum centers in Sweden rose from 148 in 2014 to 322 in 2015.[2][3] According to official statistics gathered involving recently arrived asylum seekers, police had been called out to hundreds of assaults, fights, violent threats, and fires, as well as two bomb threats, nine robberies, and four rapes.[clarification needed][4]

The attack came shortly after National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson requested 4,100 new staff and police officers to cover the increased demand for security at asylum centers, to carry out deportations, and to protect the country against terrorism.[1][5]

Stabbing

Mezher, the sole staff member present in the center at the time of the attack,[5] was stabbed at the center and was later taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The injuries proved fatal. Two fellow residents in the center, which housed eleven youths, helped overpower the attacker.[6]

Police refrained from releasing information about the attacker's identity for about three days, after which they stated that he had identified himself on arrival in Sweden as Youssaf Khaliif Nuur, a 15-year-old from Somalia.[citation needed] On 11 February, the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten reported that the Swedish Migration Agency, in their decision to deny his application for residency, determined that the attacker was 18 or older.[7][8] According to the prosecutor in the stabbing case, medical examinations indicated that he was an adult.[9] A psychiatric evaluation by the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine determined that the attacker likely suffered from a psychological disorder and recommended a more thorough evaluation before the trial.[10]

The asylum center where the attack took place is located near Gothenburg and housed minors between the ages of 14 and 17 who arrived in Sweden as asylum seekers without adult guardians.[5] The center is owned and operated by HVB Living Nordic, which runs four HVB-hem ("Homes for Care or Living"), of which the Mölndal center is one.[11]

Staff at the asylum center had expressed concerns about security to their employer.[12] A preliminary investigation on occupational safety and health violations was started in March 2016.[12]

Thomas Westin, station chief with the Stockholm City Police, called the killing "a high-profile crime."[13]

Victim

The victim, 22-year-old Alexandra Mezher, worked at the center in the months prior to the attack out of a desire to "do good", according to one of her cousins.[1][14][2] She planned to go on to graduate work in social studies.[1] She was raised in a Lebanese Christian family; her father arrived in Sweden in 1989, followed by her mother three years later.[5]

Aftermath

Sweden's Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, rushed to the scene of the attack. He later told Radio Sweden that he "believe[s] that there are quite many people in Sweden who feel a lot of concern that there can be more cases of this kind when Sweden receives so many children and youth who come alone [to seek asylum]."[15] The day after the stabbing, an editorial in Expressen called for the expulsion of migrants who committed crimes.[16] The attack raised concerns about overcrowded conditions in Sweden's asylum centers,[17] the possibility of adult migrants taking advantage of Swedish law to fraudulently register as minors[18][19] and it increased distrust against newly arrived immigrants and the security threat they posed.[20]

Trial

In May 2016 the attacker was charged with murder of Mezher and the attempted murder of another resident at the asylum center. According to the charge sheet Mezher was stabbed three times before she fled to another room, with one of the wounds severing blood vessels in her thigh causing severe blood loss. The attacker was suicidal at the time and reportedly said he had tried to kill himself at the time of the attack. [21]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Fatal stabbing at asylum centre shocks Sweden". BBC. 26 January 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Miller, Michael (26 January 2016). "'Horrible and tragic': Swedish asylum worker killed at refugee center". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  3. Orange, Richare (31 January 2016). "'Do we really want them here?' Sweden divided on refugee children". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  4. Orange, Richard (12 February 2016). "'Child' migrant who killed asylum centre worker is an adult, Swedish migration rules". The Telegraph. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Orange, Richard (26 January 2016). "Family of refugee center worker stabbed in Sweden blames politicians as teenager charged with murder". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  6. "Family mourn worker, 22, killed at refugee centre". The Local. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  7. Sydvik, Per (11 February 2016). "Migrationsverket: Misstänkte Alexandra-mördaren är vuxen" [The Swedish Migration Board: Suspected Alexandra killer is adult]. Göteborgs-Posten (in svenska). Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  8. "'15-year-old' who 'killed' refugee worker is an adult". The Local. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  9. Svensson, Pia (26 March 2016). "Knä-röntgen kan få avgöra ålder hos asylsökande". Göteborgs-Posten (in svenska). pp. 8–9. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  10. Gartéus, Madeleine (19 February 2016). "Psykiatrisk utredning klar av misstänkt mördare" (in svenska). Göteborgs-Posten. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  11. Flanke, Johan (29 January 2016). "Ensamjobb trots jättemarginal" [Alone job even giant margin]. Ny Tid Göteborgsområdet (in svenska). Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Svensson, Pia (26 March 2016). "HVB-hem utreds efter mordet". Göteborgs-Posten (in svenska). p. 8. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  13. Anderson, Christiana (31 January 2016). "Swedish Police Foiled Planned Attack on Immigrants in Stockholm". New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  14. "Alexandras mamma: "Hon var min ängel"". Goteborgs Posten. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  15. "Löfven: Mölndal stabbing "a tragedy"". Radio Sweden. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  16. "Tensions rise in Sweden after killing of asylum center worker". Times of Israel. AFP. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  17. "Crowding concerns after refugee centre worker fatally stabbed in Sweden". The Guardian. 26 January 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  18. "Trying to Stem Refugee Influx, Sweden Asks: When Is a Child Not a Child?". Jakarta Globe. Reuters. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  19. Callaghan, Louise (31 January 2016). "Rioters held as Swedish far right gains ground". Times of London. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  20. "Soldiers of Odin: The far-right groups in Finland 'protecting women' from asylum seekers". The Independent. 1 February 2016. 
  21. "Man facing trial over refugee worker's murder". The Local. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016.