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Swedish police hold man for smuggling refugee

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The Swedish Coast Guard patrolling the waters off southern Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT
13:53 CET+01:00
Swedish police arrested a man early on Sunday as he allegedly tried to smuggle a migrant into the country aboard a rubber dinghy, the first such case since Sweden imposed systematic ID checks, police said.

"This is the first arrest in southern Sweden for suspected human trafficking since the ID checks were introduced"  on January 4th for travellers arriving from Denmark, police spokeswoman Kim Hild said.

A Norwegian sea rescue team had observed the dinghy leaving the Danish town of Helsingor and informed the Swedish coast guard, Hild said.

Swedish police arrested the two men when they came ashore near Helsingborg.

Both were suspected of stealing the dinghy, while one of the men was also arrested on suspicion of human trafficking for trying to smuggle the other into the country.

"One of the men in the boat showed Norwegian documents identifying him as 24 years old. The other man did not have any documents but said he was 27 years old," Hild said.

Refugee support groups have expressed fears of human trafficking and dangerous clandestine crossings across the Baltic as a result of Sweden's ID checks.

A country of 9.8 million people, Sweden took in 163,000 asylum seekers last year, more per capita than any other EU nation.

Unable to cope with the unregulated flow of arrivals, it has since January 4 required all travellers to show photo identification when entering from Denmark, the main entry point for migrants into Sweden.

The number of asylum seekers has dropped sharply since then. On January 8, the migration agency said the number of asylum applications received in the first week of January had fallen below 1,500, after receiving almost 10,000 a week for much of October and November.

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