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Swedish artist jailed for 'race hate' pictures

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Police arrested Dan Park (pictured) and confiscated his art works at an exhibition opening on July 5th. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT
17:04 CEST+02:00
A Malmö court has sentenced Swedish street artist Dan Park to six months in jail for incitement to racial agitation and defamation.

The court also ordered him to pay a total of 60,000 kronor ($8,700) in damages to four people depicted in his pictures.

Gallery chief Henrik Rönnquist, who exhibited Park’s pictures, was also found guilty of racial agitation. He was given a suspended sentence and fined.

The charges related to pictures deemed offensive to African and Roma people. 

The court said it had taken into account the fact that Park had several previous convictions for racial agitation. Earlier this year he was twice found guilty and sentenced to a total of four months in prison. He has appealed both of the earlier verdicts.

Park shot to infamy in 2011 when he created and distributed posters with a picture of Jallow Momodou of the National Afro-Swedish Association superimposed on the image of a naked man in chains.

"Our negro slave has run away," read the text on the posters.

The controversial artist singled out Momodou for having reported a student "jungle party" in Lund, during which three people with blackened faces and ropes around their necks were led into the party by a "slave trader" and later sold.

Park's posters were distributed around the southern city and also included Momodou's name and contact details.

Momodou claimed the posters were racist and offensive, while Park argued that the purpose of the posters was to highlight the issue of free speech.

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At the time of his initial arrest in 2011, Park told The Local that he thought the prosecutors were overreacting.

”Was I surprised to be charged? Yes and no. I think it is a waste of tax payers' money mainly. It wasn't a big deal. And no one should be able to tell me what kind of art I can create,” he said.

”We all have different tastes and people often get upset, but that is what art is about - creating reaction."

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