STOCKHOLM – An Afghan couple was found guilty on Tuesday of a grisly "honor killing" for which their son had already served four years in prison.
A Swedish appeals court sentenced Raoof Ataei, 47, and Leyla Ataei, 45, to 10 years each in prison for the 2005 murder of their daughter's boyfriend, who was doused with boiling oil, beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed repeatedly.
After serving their sentences they will be expelled from Sweden, where they have been living since the early 2000s.
Honor killings are relatively rare in Sweden, but a handful of cases involving immigrants in the past decade have stirred a debate about how to protect young women seen at risk of such violence.
The case playing out in the Gota Appeals Court was unusual in that context because the victim was a man -- 20-year-old Abbas Rezai, also from Afghanistan.
The girl's brother, Abdulmajid Ataei, now 23, confessed to the murder in a previous trial. But he changed his story after his release, saying he had taken the blame to protect his parents, who didn't approve of their daughter's relationship with Rezai.
Suspicions that the parents were involved in the killing had emerged already in the first trial, but could not be proven.
After hearing the son's testimony, the Gota Appeals Court ruled that the parents carried out the murder and that their son assisted them. His sentence -- already served -- was reduced from four years to one year and four months. In addition, the appeals court canceled his deportation order.
The son testified that his parents were very upset that his sister had run away with her boyfriend.
He said they lured Rezai to their home in Hogsby, in southern Sweden, where the mother cooked up a pot of oil that she poured over Rezai. Her husband then battered him and stabbed him multiple times with a knife.
The parents denied the charges, insisting it was their son who killed Rezai during a fight. The appeals court said their stories were inconsistent and didn't match the technical evidence from the scene.
Their son acknowledged that he had fetched the knife when his father ordered him to so, but claims he didn't participate in the stabbing.
Honor killings are committed regularly in some traditional Middle Eastern societies that enforce strict separation between the sexes and view an unmarried woman's unsupervised contact with a man, even by telephone, as a stain on the family's reputation.
The son's lawyer, Helena Karlsson, said her client was relieved.
"He obviously feels it is very positive that the appeals court has listened to the story about his situation, not only regarding this specific event but also generally," she said, adding her client fears for his life.
"Naturally, this has been an incredibly difficult time for him," she said.
It wasn't immediately clear if the parents would appeal the sentence.