Swedish soldiers reject alleged Congo ‘torture scandal’

A group of Swedish special forces soldiers have called into question the credibility of the alleged “torture scandal” involving Swedish troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003.

In a debate article in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, nine elected representatives from the Armed Forces’ Special Protection Group (SSG) write that the officer who implicated Lieutenant Colonel Hans Alm in the scandal “felt passed over, did not seen himself as having received enough recognition for his missions and also did not approve the decision on the special forces unit’s development.”

The authors claim that the accuser was acting on a personal vendetta against Alm because the Lieutenant Colonel was involved in a staffing decision that went against the man.

They also state that the man said in the presence of witnesses that he and others who share his views would “sink” Alm, based on the personnel decision.

The nine, five of whom participated in the EU-led operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo together with French troops in 2003, were allowed to remain anonymous in writing their article because all members of SSG have protected identities.

They deny that the young Congolese man, who was arrested by French troops, was paraded around with a noose and subject to a mock-execution and drowning “with Swedish soldiers as passive witnesses.”

In addition, they write that Alm indicated in an interview with Sveriges Radio on April 19th of this year that there may be a connection between the personnel matter, which was settled in 2005, and the 2007 reporting of the alleged torture.

Thus, the version of events presented by the nine SSG-members describing what happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo do not agree with the conclusions made by the Armed Forces’ head lawyer Stefan Ryding-Berg in his investigation last year.

In his report, Ryding-Berg writes that “torture occurred in connection with the interrogation.”

The article also demonstrates with more clarity the Supreme Commander’s information about antagonism and “high personal tensions” within Sweden’s special forces.

The situation has resulted Armed Forces’ Director of Operations Anders Lindström launching an investigation one month ago into the condition of Sweden’s special forces units

But the nine SSG officers question the investigation.

“If the investigation’s conclusions have the same basis as the information circulating in the media, then the Supreme Commander and the leadership of the Armed Forces will have been misled,” they write.