Escaped prisoners caught

At 4.55pm on Monday Åke Martinsson, one of the two prisoners who escaped from Mariefred Prison on Thursday evening, was arrested at the railway station in Degerfors, at the northeast corner of Lake Vänern. Just over an hour later his accomplice, Tobias Jardeberg, was caught in nearby Strömtorp.

The first arrest was said to be undramatic. Two officers apprehended Martinsson, who was unarmed, and he was taken straight to Örebro police station.

Throughout the day it became clear that Jardeberg, considered to be the more dangerous of the two, was holed up in a disused school building in Strömtorp. Police cleared the area and surrounded the building, telling the gathered media that their strategy was to wait.

“The goal is that nobody gets hurt,” said Bertil Olofsson, who heads up the elite SWAT unit, NI, which played a large role in the hunt.

Earlier in the day police arrested three people in a car stopped near the school. According to Expressen they found a weapon in the car.

“We believe the weapon was intended for the escapees,” said Göran Gunnarsson of Örebro police.

But it seems that Jardeberg was already armed. Just before 5pm two shots were fired from within the old school but an hour later he gave himself up. Göran Gunnarsson said that an accomplice was also taken into custody.

On Wednesday the two men, handcuffed and wearing the standard issue blue prison uniform, appeared before Eskilstuna District Court where, according to DN, the prosecutor argued that there was a high risk that they would attempt to escape again.

The two men were detained on suspicion of kidnapping, making serious threats, serious weapons offences, serious coercion, vehicle theft and weapons offences.

Alert readers will notice that one crime that wasn’t mentioned was ‘escaping from prison’. That, as Wednesday’s Göteborgs-Posten pointed out, is because doing a runner from prison is not illegal in Sweden.

“Sweden must be unique in this respect,” said Hans-Olof Larsson, the head of criminal care at Norrtälje Prison – from where three prisoners escaped in August.

“It ought to be criminalised – now it feels as if there is a right to escape.”

That’s something for Lars Nylén, the new general director of the prison service following the resignation of Lena Häll Eriksson as news of the escape broke on Thursday night. Nylén’s appointment was announced on Sunday by Thomas Bodström, Sweden’s Justice Minister.

“I am very happy that we could so quickly find a person with exactly the profile we were after,” said Bodström – somewhat ironically given that the escapees had not at this stage been caught.

As head of the national police force, Nylén had taken over responsibility for hunting down the two prisoners.

Now, with five billion crowns at his disposal, it will be his job to ensure that Sweden’s prisons stop leaking their contents. The sector’s union, Seko, seemed satisfied with the appointment of a man who describes himself as “born and brought up in the police”.

But Svenska Dagbladet pointed out to Nylén that the prison service is a different beast to the police.

“I haven’t worked with those matters, but as a policeman I’m not entirely unfamiliar with them” he responded. “Police and criminal care must work hand in hand. In all security issues there is a need to think less generally.”

According to SvD, Nylén will take responsibility for 7,700 staff and 4,700 prisoners, a number which is expected to rise by more than a thousand over the next four years. He begins his new job this week but still seems keen to help his old colleagues, who have been called out to three intensive searches for escaped prisoners in the last three months.

“If the criminal care system works, the police will clearly have less to do,” he said.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, <a href="http://www.aftonbladet.