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Court denies couple marriage: 'your country does not exist'

Court denies couple marriage: 'your country does not exist'

Published: 10 Dec 2007 17:56 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Dec 2007 17:56 GMT+01:00

A Swedish court has refused to recognize a couple's marriage - because it was carried out in a country that does not exist.

The couple, known just as 'Johan' and 'Jenny', say they registered their marriage in a ceremony in the 'BjornSocialist Republic'. This, they say, is an independent Marxist state, located "on a stone that looks like a tractor", in front of the Bos Islands in Lake Immeln in Skåne, southern Sweden.

The republic, they say, is the smallest in the world, with a land area of 6-8 square metres, a national anthem, a president and ministers, including a minister for 'Enlightenment and Insight.'

The couple applied in August for the Swedish tax authority to recognize the marriage. The application was turned down on the grounds that the republic was not recognized by Swedish law.

The couple appealed the decision to the Örebro District Court. In their submission to the court, they argued that the marriage had taken place according to the laws of the BjornSocialist Republic. They admitted that the republic was not recognized by Sweden and had no permanent inhabitants, but insisted that it had citizens "who visit it regularly."

"As well as a population, it also has a territory and government," they said. They compared their situation to citizens of Taiwan and Northern Cyprus, states not recognized by Sweden.

The court noted that the couple had submitted a bottle labelled "the State's Water" as evidence.

"According to the label, the country of production is the Republic," the court wrote.

Ruling it would not recognize the couple's nuptials, the court said the tax authority had applied the rules correctly, saying "none of the alternative grounds [to approve the marriage] can be used to support the application."

Christian Augustsson, who goes by the title of Vice President of the Republic, told The Local in a letter signed jointly with other officials that the marriage "ought to be recognized by Swedish courts, as the BjornSocialist Republic exists as a functioning state."

Augustsson denied that the state was 'un-serious', arguing that "an un-serious project does not join two people in matrimony, a marriage which the married couple then apply to have registered in a foreign state."

The Republic claims on its website to have been founded in 2005, and says it is the smallest state in the world. The ideological basis of the Republic is "the Bjorn principles and a Marxist brand of socialism." The Bjorn principles are, it claims, a religion that rejects traditional belief in God.

On the economy, Augustsson claims that "Socialist production of carbonated water and tea began in October 2007."

The recent defeat was not the first time the 'Republic' failed to gain recognition in the courts. Augustsson says a 'citizen' was denied the right to have her Swedish citizenship revoked by the Swedish Board of Migration and the courts.

As for the happy couple - it seems that married bliss was short-lived. "There has unfortunately been a split at this time between the couple, although there has been no formal application for divorce," said Augustsson.

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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