A court in Western Norway has convicted the main suspect in the death of an eight-year-old girl in her home near Bergen five years ago. The case has sparked widespread media coverage in Norway because the local police in Hordaland County admitted to botching the initial investigation of the young girl’s strangulation.
The case has sparked both frustration and outrage after young Monika Sviglinskaja was found dead in her mother’s home at Sotra in Hordaland with a belt wrapped around her neck. The local police ruled the death a probable suicide and dropped the case after nine months, only to later admit they’d done a poor job of the investigation. The investigation, known nationally as Monika-saken (“the Monika case”), was reopened in 2014.
Monika’s mother had always suspected her former live-in partner, like herself a Lithuanian named Donatas Lukosevicius, age 34. Prosecutors could eventually tie his DNA to Monika and the scene where she was found dead, and on Monday he was sentenced to one of Norway’s strongest prison terms.
Lukosevicius was sentenced to 18 years of the special form of custody called forvaring, which can be extended indefinitely by judges in the future. Lukosevicius was also ordered held for at least 10 years before being eligible for parole.
His defense attorney, Aasmund Olav Sandland, said Lukosevicius was not surprised by the verdict and would take the time he’s allowed to decide whether he’ll appeal.
Suicide ‘highly improbabe’
The sentence was in line with what prosecutors had requested. The judge went along with the special custody terms, aimed at protecting the public from particularly dangerous criminals, because of an overhanging danger Lukosevicius could commit more violent crimes. He has been convicted of violence on earlier occasions.
The defendant was also ordered to pay NOK 250,000 in compensation to Monika’s mother. Judge Håkon Rastum claimed that Lukosevicius was aware of the family’s routines and knew that the little’s girl’s mother would be the one to find her daughter dead upon returning home from work. He pointed to threats that Lukosevicius had sent to the mother as well.
The defendant had been unable to account for his movement on the day Monika died. He also changed his story under cross-examination and the judge ruled it was highly improbable that eight-year-old Monika had killed herself, despite the preliminary determination by police.