Prosecutor shuts down probe into Roma register
Published: 20 Dec 2013 12:17 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Dec 2013 12:17 GMT+01:00
A Swedish prosecutor has closed an investigation against two police officers suspected of crimes in connection with a Roma register operated by Skåne police, arguing that the police had a legitimate legal reason for the lists.
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“The main question is whether this was an ethnic register. The answer to that question is that there is no longer any reason to believe that," prosecutor Mats Åhlund explained to news agency TT.
“There are problems with the method, but that does not mean that someone should be charged."
Åhlund added that his ruling had no impact on the ability of those affected by the register to seek compensation from the Commission on Security and Integrity Protection (Säkerhets- och integritetsskyddsnämnden - SIN).
“Many will not understand what I am trying to convey; there will surely be many who will continue to feel aggrieved,” he said. “I have to make a legal assessment - can I believe on an objective basis that I can get a conviction if I prosecute? It is pretty clear to me that I won’t."
SIN stated in a report published on November 15th that the register, which was dubbed ”kringresande” after the old-fashioned Swedish term for traveling communities, was established for no clear reason and was illegal.
The SIN report also concluded that there had been no need to add all the names in the database, which Skåne County police said was originally put together to keep tabs on Roma in the south suspected of crime. The list ballooned, however, including children, reporters at public service radio's Romani Chib broadcast, and even in-laws of Roma Swedes, and people who had passed away.
Skåne County police has claimed the list was assembled to "fight a criminal network" rather than to keep tabs on people of a specific ethnicity.
Åhlund argued however that the police had a reason for establishing the registers.
“There must be a suspicion of anticipated or committed serious crimes. The object has been to check who may have been involved and for that you may determine family relationships. It may then be necessary to include children to see how it fits together.
“This is investigative work which is permitted,” he said.
“It is obvious that very many of those registered are not suspected of crimes and that should be clearly stated. It has not been done and it should not be done. But that did not make the entries in the register a misdemeanor and are therefore not criminal."
“It is wrong, but it is not criminal.”
Following the SIN report it was noted that the state bill for compensation could be high as 4,500 of the 4,700 people listed in the register remain alive today and thus could be potential claimants.