Catastrophe Commission guarantees anonymity

Witnesses wishing to testify to Sweden's Catastrophe Commission may ask for their identities not to be revealed.

The commission was reestablished after anonymous sources from government offices informed newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that security copies of official e-mail traffic from the time of the tsunami disaster were stored in a safe in government buildings.

On Thursday the Swedish government reinstated the Catastrophe Commission, which is led by the chairman of the Court of Appeal, Johan Hirschfeldt.

The commission began its official investigation into the previous government’s handling of the tsunami disaster in 2005. As is customary with state investigations the commission gathered in the relevant documentation and listened to the testimony of the most central figures.

One witness in particular, Göran Persson’s former aide Lars Danielsson, was subjected to massive public scrutiny.

But the newly established commission considers the evidence found in the cellar of government buildings to warrant anonymity for those who do not wish to testify in public.

“We are of course willing to look at that option. If somebody contacts us and is willing to provide us with information on condition of anonymity then we will consider such a request,” commission secretary Per Molander told Svenska Dagbladet.

When pressed further on whether the commission could guarantee anonymity, Molander cleared up any ambiguity: “Yes, we certainly can,” he said.

Witnesses are not legally obliged to tell the truth when questioned by the commission. This led to considerable public discontent when high-level officials gave contradictory accounts of their actions in the days following the catastrophe that claimed the lives of 524 Swedes.

“But it may be the case that the technical material of which we are now in possession makes it more difficult not to provide correct answers to our questions,” said Molander.