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Convicted Euro-MP refuses to quit

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15:58 CEST+02:00
A Swedish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) convicted of accounting crimes says she will not give up her seat, despite her own Liberal Party's request for her to quit.

"It would have been impossible for them to say that crime is OK," Maria Carlshamre told TT.

"But I have made the judgment that the mandate I was given by voters takes precedence. I am here on a personal mandate," she said.

Carlshamre says she will not appeal the court ruling that fined her 40,000 kronor for accounting crimes.

"I'm not appealing, despite receiving advice to do so. This is a part of my life that I want to leave behind me," Carlshamre said.

The trouble for the MEP started when the TV production company that she owned with her former partner was declared bankrupt in 2003, and could only provide accounts for one year. The company also had large tax debts.

In addition, assets of 386,000 kronor had disappeared without trace.

Carlshamre says that as she had not intentionally committed a crime, the judgment is no obstacle to her work at the European Parliament.

But the Liberal Party's leadership, which conducted a long interview with the MEP on Friday, has said that she should not continue.

"We think it's inappropriate to be a lawmaker and at the same time to be a convicted law breaker," said Marit Paulsen, second deputy chairwoman of the Liberal Party, herself a former Euro-MP.

Paulsen said she did not know how the episode would affect the party's work in the EU Parliament, but added "I doubt it will work well."

According to Paulsen it is unclear whether Carlshamre is allowed to continue working as before.

"That question is in the hands of the party group in Brussels," she said and emphasized that the party leadership had taken account of Carlshamre's personal situation at the time she committed the crime.

"But the judgment also takes this into account. Otherwise she'd have been sent to prison rather than being fined," Paulsen said.

TT/The Local

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