Sweden willing to imprison more war criminals

Sweden is willing to receive more war criminals from the former Yugoslavia, but would not consider detaining Saddam Hussein in its prisons, Justice Minister Thomas Bodström has said.

In an interview with Sydsvenska Dagbladet, Bodström said that discussions were underway about how Sweden could take in more of those convicted of war crimes at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

One high-profile war criminal already serving a sentence in Sweden is Biljana Plavsic, the former Bosnian-Serb president. Plavsic was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment by the court, and chose to come to Sweden to serve her time.

The war crimes tribunal has indicted 120 people, of which 37 have so far been convicted.

Bodström said that Sweden had a duty to take in more prisoners.

“The system fails if countries such as Sweden, which has pressed hard to create an international court, don’t take in convicted war criminals.”

The former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, has also reportedly expressed an interest in serving his sentence in Sweden. Saddam favoured Sweden because it was just and subject to the rule of law, reports Dagens Nyheter.

But Bodström said that Sweden “is not the right country” to take in such a person. He argued that a larger country that could better guarantee security would be preferable.

The decision of the Iraqi government to try the former president in Baghdad rather than allow him to be tried in the Hague now makes it unlikely that the Swedish government will need to make a formal decision on whether to accept him into a Swedish jail.