Peter Mangs, 40, is facing three charges of murder and 12 charges of attempted murder.

A Swedish man suspected of having unleashed a year-long shooting spree against immigrants was officially charged Monday with 20 crimes including three murders and 12 attempted murders.

Peter Mangs, 40, is suspected of being behind a string of shootings that gripped the southern Swedish city of Malmoe with fear from 2009-2010.

“The investigation comprises many cases of very aggravated criminality,” chief prosecutor Solveig Wollstad said in a statement.

Mangs was arrested in early November 2010 following a massive police manhunt as the violence against immigrants in Sweden's third largest city intensified.

He has been charged with killing two men of immigrant origin in 2003 and one Swedish woman who had been sitting in a car with an immigrant man in late 2009.

He was also charged with 12 attempted murders in which he fired numerous shots with his Glock 19 pistol at homes, businesses and cars as well as out in the open, seriously injuring a number of people and coming close to killing many others.

He was also charged with having prepared one murder by repeatedly carrying his gun to the home of a man he intended to kill, as well as making illegal threats, vandalism and aggravated judicial tampering, all between 2009 and 2010.

The prosecution had a very strong case, Wollstad said, referring to a large number of witness accounts, as well as technical and digital evidence listed in the 60-page charge sheet.

According to the prosecutor, Mangs, who has only confessed to two counts of vandalism, had cooperated with the investigation in the beginning but has for the past year refused to speak to investigators or answer any questions.

Wollstad told a news conference in Malmoe Monday that there appeared to be more than one motive for the shootings.

“There is a certain level of xenophobia, but also other things, like aggression towards people who have previously been found guilty of crime,” she was quoted by the TT news agency as saying.

The Malmoe shooting spree bore chilling similarity to the case of a gunman who targeted immigrants in Stockholm in the early 1990s, dubbed “Laserman”.

The Stockholm “Laserman”, John Ausonius, shot 11 people of immigrant origin, killing one, from August 1991 to January 1992.

Ausonius, who got his nickname by initially using a rifle equipped with a laser sight, was jailed for life in 1994.

The prosecutor's office said Mangs' trial should get underway “relatively soon” and was expected to wrap up around mid-July. - AFP