In a murder investigation, the police did not include the identification of the perpetrator in the preliminary investigation

One evening in summer 2021, a murder was committed in Luleå and a preliminary investigation was opened. During the night, the police were contacted by a person who told them he had witnessed the murder. When the police were picking the person up to interview him, he told them who the perpetrator was, but said he was afraid to confirm this in an interview. For this reason, the identification was not documented in the preliminary investigation but was included in an intelligence report. Instead, the preliminary investigation indicated that the identification only took place during an interview almost a month later. As a result, neither the man identified, who was later convicted of murder, nor the prosecutor who took over as lead investigator, found out how the original identification had taken place.

In terms of what should be documented in a preliminary investigation, according to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, there may be limitation issues, for example, when concerning information that originates in intelligence gathering, and, based on current regulations, how certain information is to be documented may be decided on a case-by-case basis. The decision should be guided by the requirement of objectivity and the requirement that the preliminary investigation report must give a true a picture of findings that are of significance for the case.

In this case, a preliminary investigation had been opened when the perpetrator was identified and the person who provided the information had been picked up by police to be interviewed about his observations in connection with the crime. Identification of a person could be of key significance for the criminal investigation. Against this background, the Parliamentary Ombudsman is of the view there are no grounds for failing to document the identification in the preliminary investigation merely because the person said he would not confirm it in an interview. The Parliamentary Ombudsman states therefore that details of the identification should have been documented in the preliminary investigation. This would also have ensured that the prosecutor became aware it. The Police Authority is criticised for what happened.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman regards the investigation as insufficient to be able to comment on the responsible prosecutor’s actions.

Date of decision: 2024-01-22