Man at centre of Nobel prize scandal found guilty of rape

Crisis arising from Jean-Claude Arnault’s case forced academy to cancel this year’s literature prize

Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault at the district court in Stockholm. The court jailed the Frenchman in the Nobel scandal for two years for rape. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault at the district court in Stockholm. The court jailed the Frenchman in the Nobel scandal for two years for rape. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

 

A Swedish court found Jean-Claude Arnault, at the centre of a scandal that has rocked the body that awards the Nobel literature prize, guilty of rape and sentenced him to two years’ jail on Monday.

Arnault (72) had been charged with two counts of rape by a district court in Stockholm. The court acquitted him of one.

The crisis forced the Swedish Academy to cancel this year’s literature prize, which would have been announced this month, and prompted some of its 18 members to quit.

Arnault’s lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, was not immediately available for comment, but he has said Arnault denies all allegations.

Arnault is married to a member of the Swedish Academy. He has been at the centre of a scandal that has thrown the Swedish Academy into its worst crisis since its founding more than 200 years ago by the Swedish king.

The verdict coincides with this year’s Nobel Prize announcements.

Arnault has lived in Sweden for 50 years and been an influential figure on the country’s cultural scene for decades. He is married to Katarina Frostenson, a highly regarded poet and playwright and member of the Swedish Academy, which has awarded the world’s most prestigious literary prize since 1901.

After accusations of rape were made against Arnault last year, the ensuing scandal - and disagreements over how to handle it - prompted nearly half the academy’s members to quit. This left the body little option but to postpone this year’s prize. –Reuters/Guardian