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HAMAS

Hamas minister gets Swedish visa

Sweden has granted a minister from Hamas a visa to the EU's Schengen zone, despite an EU decision to cut ties with the ruling Palestinian party.

Hamas’ refugee minister Atef Adwan will attend a Palestinian conference in Malmö on Saturday after the Swedish consulate general in Jerusalem granted him a visa, Svenska Dagbladet has reported.

The organisation’s group leader Salah Mohammed al-Bardawil was yesterday denied a visa to the Schengen area by French authorities.

Swedish foreign ministry spokesman Fredrik Florén told Svenska Dagbladet the visa had been issued after the usual consultations with other Schengen countries. He said that no country had objected to Sweden issuing the permit.

But Florén insisted that Sweden was “full-square behind” demands by the ‘quartet’ of the United States, United Nations, EU and Russia that the Hamas-led Palestinian authority renounce violence, acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and respect existing agreements.

TERRORISM

Malmö man freed from terror financing charges

A Malmö court has acquitted the head of the al-Aqsa Foundation in Sweden on charges that he used funds from the charity to support Hamas.

Malmö man freed from terror financing charges

“This is good. Now the work of sending money to children can continue,” said defence attorney Laue Traberg Smidt to the TT news agency.

Khalid al-Yousef had been charged with violated terror financing laws, with an alternative charge of violated sanctions laws.

As head of al-Aqsa Spannmål, the Swedish branch of the al-Aqsa Foundation, al-Yousef oversaw the collection of donations for Palestinian children suffering in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to the indictment, however, money ended up at organizations with ties to Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union (EU).

Deputy chief prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström wanted al-Yousef to be sent to prison, claiming that Hamas was strengthened as a result of the charity’s activities.

During the trial she attempted to prove that the organizations which receive funding from al-Aqsa Spannmål were tied to Hamas.

Al-Yousef had collected more than 4 million kronor ($460,000) through the foundation, with about half of the proceeds supporting activities in the West Bank and Gaza, while other parts of his fund were frozen by authorities in the United States and Britain.

Traberg Smidt is especially please with the court’s reasons for the acquittal.

In its ruling, the Malmö District Court stated that Hamas and Israel have a relationship to one another akin to a state of war.

That Israel has declared illegal a number of organizations to which al-Yousef’s foundation sent money holds no importance, according to the court.

The court also considered the many newspaper articles, television reports, book excerpts and websites presented by the prosecutor as having “very low” value as evidence.