International hunt for court escapee

The 52 year old man who escaped from Västerås district court on Friday with the help of two armed men was still at large early on Saturday afternoon.

A massive search is underway and police have opened a hotline in the hope that the public will be able to help with information.

Police in Västmanland and across the country have had a number of tip-offs in the hunt for the 52 year old and the men who sprang him from the courtroom. But investigators say they are particularly keen to hear from anyone who witnessed their escape in a black BMW combi.

At around 11.30am on Friday two “short, thin men”, wearing blue and wearing balaclavas ran through the court’s front office and into the courtroom. One of the men was armed and pointed his automatic weapon round the courtroom in a sweeping motion.

The defendant stood up and ran out with the two raiders. A fourth man is believed to have driven the getaway car, which left the scene heading north.

As well as the BMW, a dark Saab 9000 is thought to have been used in the escape.

“They put their balaclavas on before they rushed into the courtroom. Someone could have seen them unmasked just beforehand,” said Börje Strömberg at Västmanland police.

The Saab, which the men are thought to have switched to at a hamburger restaurant in Västerås, has not yet been recovered. Police have still not found any vehicle with the car registration noted by a witness.

“Either the witness got it wrong or the car had false plates,” said Strömberg.

Police officers are concentrating on trying to get inside information this weekend. The 52 year old has been thoroughly investigated in a far-reaching drugs case with him at the centre, and police are confident that they are well-informed about his contact network.

He is suspected of smuggling large quantities of amphetamines from the Netherlands.

“The man has many international contacts and we have not ruled out the possibility that he has left the country, or that he will try to do so,” said Strömberg.

Police have issued an international alert for the man.