National alert as police hunt armed raiders

Sweden's police departments have been put on high alert following an armed raid on a security van in Årsta, in the south of Stockholm. At least five robbers threatened the guards with automatic weapons before blowing a hole in the side of the vehicle and making off with an undisclosed sum.

The drama began just after 3pm as the Securitas van’s route was blocked by a green Jeep Cherokee. Five masked men approached the vehicle and one of them, who was apparently wearing a police jacket, fired shots in the air.

“The robbers shot open the passenger door and forced out the guards,” said Aftonbladet’s Oisin Cantwell, who was one of the first reporters on the scene. “Then they blew apart part of the vehicle.” Witnesses reported hearing a powerful explosion.

“This is how they were able to get the goods out of the security van,” said Kjell Lindgren of Stockholm Police to Dagens Nyheter.

“There was an earlier report that one of the guards had been shot but that wasn’t true – naturally he is shaken and shocked, but no physical injuries,” he said.

Aftonbladet reported that at least three cars were involved in the operation, which left a “gaping hole” in the van.

“We don’t know how much they got away with,” said police spokesman Björn Pihlblad to Aftonbladet. “But we know that they had loaded up.”

A Ford Escort was found on fire nearby and a Saab was also discovered soon after the robbery. But the gang appears to have escaped in the Jeep, dropping so-called “Spanish riders” – metal spikes – in the road behind them to stop police pursuing them.

“That sounds about right,” said Pihlblad. “The area has been tidied up now, but let’s see how many people are forced to buy new winter tyres thanks to this.”

Aftonbladet pointed out that the robbery bore several similarities to a raid on another security van in the Ropsten area of Stockholm on November 17th. Three cars were also used in that incident – including a Jeep Cherokee – and one was set on fire.

Nevertheless, Pihlblad said that there were no particular suspects yet.

A massive police hunt was underway on Monday evening, with the elite SWAT unit, NI, joining the hunt along with dog patrols and helicopters.

“This is priority, so we have put in place a special operation,” Kjell Lindgren told DN. “Even so-called domestic search, which means that we are using existing records and exploiting all the information channels we have at our disposal.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, Aftonbladet


Swedish terror attacker sentenced to forced psychiatric care

A court has sentenced the far-right extremist Theodor Engström to forced psychiatric care for the knife attack he carried out at the Almedalen political festival this summer.

Swedish terror attacker sentenced to forced psychiatric care

The Gotland district court found the 33-year-old Engström guilty of murdering the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren, but did not agree that the murder counted as a terror attack.

It did find him guilty, however, of “planning a terror attack”, for his preparations to murder the Centre Party’s leader, Annie Lööf. 

“The murdered woman had a significant role [in society], a murder is always serious, and this had consequences both for Almedalen Week and for society more broadly,” the judge Per Sundberg, said at a press conference. 

The judge Per Sundberg announces the sentence on Theodor Engström on December 6th. Photo: Karl Melander/TT

But he said that the court judged that Sweden’s terror legislation was too restrictively drafted for her murder to count as a terror offence. 

“Despite Ing-Marie Wieselgren’s well-attested position within psychiatry, the court considers that her position as national coordinator at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions is not such that her murder can in itself be considered to have damaged Sweden. The act cannot as a result be classified as a terrorist crime on those grounds.” 

The court ruled that Engström’s crimes deserved Sweden’s most severe sentence, a life sentence in prison, but found that due to his disturbed mental state he should instead receive “psychiatric care with a special test for release”. 

In its judgement, the court said that an examination by forensic psychiatrists had found both that there were “medical reasons” why Engström should be transferred into a closed psychiatric facility and that “his insight into the meaning of his actions and his ability to adjust his actions according to such insight were at the very least severely diminished”. 

It said that under Swedish law, a court could send someone to prison who was in need of psychiatric care only if there were “special reasons” to do so. 

“The court considers that it has not been shown that Theodor Engström’s need of psychiatric care is so limited that there is a special reason for a prison sentence,” it ruled. 

Lööf wrote on Instagram that the judgement was “a relief”. 

“For me personally, it was a relief when the judgement came,” she wrote. “Engström has also been judged guilty of ‘preparation for a terror attack through preparation for murder’. This means that the the court is taking the threat towards democracy and towards politicians as extremely serious.”

The fact that the court has decided that Engström’s care should have a “special test for release” means that he cannot be discharged from the closed psychiatric hospital or ward where he is treated without a court decision. 

The court must rule both that the mental disorder that led to the crime has abated to the extent that there is no risk of further crimes, and that he has no other mental disorders that might require compulsory psychiatric care. The care has to be reassessed every six months.