Swedish prosecutors said Thursday they no longer suspected a woman of holding her son captive in their apartment for decades, saying he had not been held against his will.
Police had arrested the 70-year-old mother earlier this week, initially saying the 41-year-old man had been “locked up for a very long time” in their apartment in a southern Stockholm suburb.
Media reports quoted the man’s sister, who hadn’t seen her brother in 20 years, as saying that the mother had pulled her son out of school when he was 12 and isolated him from the outside world for 28 years.
The sister explained she had gone to the apartment on Sunday after learning the mother had been admitted to hospital.
She found her brother undernourished with infected sores on his legs, almost no teeth and laboured speech.
He was taken to hospital where he underwent surgery. Doctors alerted police to the man’s condition.
The mother was initially detained on suspicion of illegal deprivation of liberty and causing grievous bodily harm, but was released on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Emma Olsson told AFP the woman was no longer a suspect, after the investigation determined that the man had not been physically restrained from leaving the apartment.
“We haven’t found any indications that he has been locked up, tied up or physically prevented from leaving the scene. There are no indications that there have been locked spaces,” Olsson said.
“The man himself has said that it was up to him if he wanted to leave the apartment,” she added.
“He’s an adult and could go out if he wanted,” she said, adding that witnesses had seen him outside on occasion.
She said a medical examination had also shown no signs of violence.
“He has no injuries that are consistent with violence. The sores are due to illness, sores that have become infected.”
Olsson said social services were investigating the case, in particular the reports about him being removed from school at a young age and isolated at home.
Asked if that could be considered a crime, Olsson said that “in such a case the statute of limitations would have expired long ago.”
“One can question her suitability as a mother, but this is now up to social services to look into,” she said.
“Society now needs to help this man, and this woman too. And make sure that we can prevent this kind of thing from happening again.”
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