Pastor charged with murder 5, 2004

Stockholm - A Pentecostal pastor was on Wednesday charged with murder in a highly publicised case, involving several leading members of the congregation.

The trial opens next week at the district court in the university city of Uppsala. Norwegian-born pastor Helge Fossmo was charged with the December 1999 murder of his first wife, and for planning the murder of his second wife, Alexandra, on January 10.

According to prosecutor Elin Blank, Fossmo urged the nanny to kill his wife "on behalf of God" since divorce was unthinkable for a Pentecostal pastor.

Media organisations in both Sweden and Norway have closely followed the double-murder probe in the small village of Knutby not far from Uppsala, some 100km north of Stockholm.

Fossmo's former nanny, Sanna Svensson has admitted to the shooting of Alexandra Fossmo, 23.

In police interviews she also confessed to attacking Alexandra Fossmo with a hammer last November, and the shooting of a 30-year-old neighbour of Fossmo's that January night.

The probe revealed that the 30-year-old gunshot victim's wife had had an affair with Helge Fossmo.

Fossmo was one of the pastors in a closely-knit congregation of born-again Pentecostals that number some 60 members.

Investigators said their probe was blocked for weeks before the congregation disowned Fossmo.

Fossmo's lawyer said he would contest the charges and rejected claims that Fossmo killed his first wife Helene, 26.

Her 1999 death in the bathroom was initially ruled as an accident but evidence indicated that she had a high content of a sedative in her bloodstream, and had suspicious head wounds.

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