Swedish authorities row over tsunami bill

Swedes have been mourning the six month anniversary of the Tsunami catastrophe. But while solemn services of remembrance are held across the country the Swedish police and military continue to bicker over the cost of bringing bodies back from Thailand.

On Sunday 26th June 543 candles were lit in a Gothenburg park, in honour of every Swede who perished or remains missing after the tsunami in south-east Asia.

Meanwhile voluntary organisations arranged services of remembrance throughout the country to mark the six month anniversary of the tragedy.

There was no official memorial ceremony in Sweden and neither the government nor the Foreign Ministry chose to commemorate the day either at home or in Thailand. Instead they say they are putting their efforts into planning the first year anniversary in December.

However, in an open letter to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Prime Minister Göran Persson wrote, “It is difficult to comprehend what happens to a person who has experienced something so traumatic. It is therefore right that six months on we are reminded about how many people still live with the catastrophe. Half a year is not a long time.”

But it’s long enough for the Swedish police and military forces to become embroiled in a bitter feud over the cost of bringing bodies back from Thailand.

According to Monday’s papers the military has sent a bill to the National Police Board on two occasions for overseeing the care of bodies at Ärna Airport, near Uppsala.

The Police Board has returned the bills to the military who insist they will continue to resend the invoice. Future costs are estimated around 1.3 million crowns per month.

The police say that with regard to the work of Swedish authorities in connection with the tsunami, a decision has been made that all authorities should foot their own bill. And that includes the military.

The debacle has now been handed over for the Swedish government to solve and the bill’s fate will be decided by the justice, defence and finance departments.

So far the tsunami catastrophe has dealt a 65 million crown blow to police funds. And it is predicted that figure with rise to the tune of 108 million crowns by the end of the year.

The military is hoping to recover between 40 and 45 million crowns from the National Police Board.

Meanwhile Sunday’s Dagens Nyheter revealed financial concerns are among the most common queries for Swedes affected by the tsunami.