No prosecution over demo swastika

Prosecutors in Malmö have decided not to press charges against demonstrators were who carried a banner depicting a swastika during a demonstration over the war in Lebanon.

“Political demonstrations should be allowed some lee-way,” prosecutor Bo Albrektsson said.

The prosecutor’s office in Malmö has given contradictory signals in the last few days as to whether there would be prosecutions for the crime of Agitation against Minority Groups.

Duty prosecutor Mats Svensson said on Friday that the placards, which compared the swastika to the Star of David, were not illegal.

On Monday, however, Malmö’s chief prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem expressed a different opinion, saying that even in the context of a political demonstration, displaying the swastika was clearly disrespectful of Jews as a minority group. Alhem was only commenting on general principles, and was not responsible for dealing with the case in hand.

Police again contacted prosecutors on Monday night over a controversial placard at a demonstration against the Middle Eastern conflict.

“According to my information, the complaint was over text on the reverse side of a placard being carried by some children. I don’t recall exactly what it said, but it expressed criticism of Israel. In my view, this did not constitute Agitation against Minority Groups,” Albrektsson said.

He added that he had not heard the chief prosecutor’s views until after making his decision.

“My view was that this was a political demonstration, and people therefore have a right to make harsh criticisms of a particular country. This is part of the right to freedom of protest and freedom of speech.”

Prosecutors have received two complaints over alleged agitiation in connection with the war protests. One complaint came from the police, the other from an anonymous member of the public.

Liberal councillor Iva Parizkova Ryggeståhl had earlier called for the Palestinian Association of Malmö to have its subsidies stopped following the appearance of the swastika at the demonstration. The association denied having any connection to the controversial placard.