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Murderer on strike over 'hug ban'

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14:12 CEST+02:00
A notorious police murderer in one of Sweden's top-security jails has started a hunger strike over what he claims is guards' refusal to let him hug his relatives. But the prison service denies that they prevent prisoners having physical contact with their families.

Tony Olsson is one of five prisoners at the top security wing of Kumla prison, central Sweden.

Olsson was part of a gang which in 1999 shot dead two police officers in the small town of Malexander. His notoriety increased after his 2004 escape from Hall jail, after which he was on the run for two days.

In an open letter to the director general of the Swedish prison service, published in newspaper Expressen, Olsson claims that prisoners "are not allowed to hug our relatives."

"My little daughter hardly recognizes me," he said.

But the prison service denied on Monday that Olsson or the other prisoners were prevented hugging relatives.

"It's not true. He is allowed to hug his family," said AnneMarie Dahlgren, spokeswoman for the Swedish Prison and Probation Service. She said the prison service had not received a letter from Olsson, only reading about it in Expressen.

Asked whether there were any restrictions on Olsson's physical contact with his family, she said: "to be crass about it, the line is drawn at sex."

"He is not allowed unsupervised visits, though," Dahlgren added.

"He's in the top security unit, and there are reasons that he is there," she said.

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