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Persson aide slammed by ombudsman

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16:45 CEST+02:00
Göran Persson's closest aide obstructed an official investigation into the government's handling of the South Asian tsunami crisis, Sweden's Justice Ombudsman has said.

Lars Danielsson, state secretary to the prime minister, refused to respond to questions from Johan Hirschfeldt, the Catastrophe Commission's chairman. Hirschfeldt had asked him repeatedly why his evidence contradicted that of Hans Dahlgren, cabinet secretary at the foreign ministry.

Dahlgren had said that he had spoken to Danielsson several times on 26th December 2004, something that Danielsson said he did not recall.

Justice Ombudsman Nils-Olof Berggren said in his report on Tuesday that it was "particularly remarkable" that Danielsson had not answered the commission's questions on why his version of events was different to that of Dahlgren. Hirschfeldt had visited him several times to try to get his version of events, but Danielsson still refused to answer.

"He must then, if not before, have realised that the commission considered the information to be important for its work."

Danielsson was "clearly obliged to give the information that the commission requested," Berggren said in his report.

Berggren added that he had interviewed Danielsson for the report, and had been "forced to conclude that the explanations given by Lars Danielsson about the telephone calls are not convincing, particularly fiven the background of his clear unwillingness or inability to give an explanation."

The ombudsman said that he could not rule that Danielsson had deliberately lied, but criticised him for not cooperating fully.

The Danielsson affair followed heavy criticism of the government over its handling of the tsunami. Göran Persson and the then foreign minister Laila Freivalds were accused of inaction following the tsunami, in which over 500 Swedes died. Freivalds later resigned over a different issue.

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