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Guard "smuggled gun into prison"

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17:47 CET+01:00
Legal proceedings began on Monday against fifteen men and two women suspected of involvement in one of three high profile prison escapes last summer.

On the night of July 27th, four men escaped from Hall prison, near Södertälje. Police launched a massive search operation and for three days Sweden watched as they were captured one by one.

Tony Olsson, who is serving a life sentence for murdering a police officer, was armed with a pistol as he walked out of his unlocked cell just before midnight. He forced two guards to hand over their keys and then released three other prisoners, Alfred Sansiviero, Mahmoud Amaya and Daniel Maiorana.

They locked one of the guards in a cell and took the other one with them to a visiting room, where she let them out. Outside the prison a car was waiting for them with a driver.

According to the chief prosecutor, Stefan Bergman, there were a number of factors which created the right environment for an escape.

"The poor technical design of the cell doors, the poor control over what visitors and staff were able to take in to the prison, a young and poorly trained staff member and manipulative criminals who skilfully succeeded in persuading the employees to co-operate made the escape possible," said Bergman.

He added that the escape appears to have been planned for between two weeks and a month.

The four prisoners were included among the seventeen suspects, as were five people who are or were employed at Hall prison.

One of these, a 22 year old, has been highlighted as "the most active" and is charged with serious weapons offences and assisting escape.

"He says that he was charmed by the inmates," said police inspector Eiler Augustsson. "He thought this was exciting and he was fed up with his job."

Dagens Nyheter noted that the 22 year old has unsuccessfully applied to the Swedish National Police Academy "no less than six times".

He is suspected of procuring the weapon and smuggling it in to Tony Olsson, along with four mobile telephones which appear to have been used to organise the escape. The 22 year old is also alleged to have ensured that Tony Olsson's cell door was unlocked. He denies any involvement in the escape.

The first call made by the prisoners when they were outside the prison was to another prison officer, who is accused of having contact with the people who arranged the escape vehicle.

Three further officers are suspected of having known about the imminent escape without reporting it to their superiors. They have been charged with "breach of service".

Eight other people were prosecuted with assisting the escape or protecting the prisoners once they were on the run.

Tony Olsson, who, according to Dagens Nyheter, changed his name to Tony Byström on Monday, is one of the country's most well-known prisoners. On 28th May 1999 he and two others stole 2.6 million kronor from a bank Östergötland. Two policemen stopped the robbers in the town of Malexander, but when they tried to arrest them the officers were overpowered and shot dead with their own weapons.

In January 2000 Olson and his accomplices were found guilty of murder, attempted murder and serious robbery. and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Throughout the entire police investigation into last summer's escape, Olsson has refused to answer any of the charges against him.

"If I've got anything to say, I'll say it in the trial," he has told police.

Daniel Maiorana has denied that he was involved in the planning of the escape. He says the door to his cell opened unexpectedly and he heard someone ask him if he wanted to join the others. According to Aftonbladet, he has said that the escape was "a protest against the criminal care system's management".

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet

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