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Secret meeting behind jail transfer: Reinfeldt

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Secret meeting behind jail transfer: Reinfeldt
17:46 CEST+02:00
A secret meeting between California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Fredrik Reinfeldt provided the catalyst for the transfer to Sweden of Annika Östberg, 55, after almost 30 years in a US jail, the Prime Minister has claimed.

Reinfeldt told news agency TT on Wednesday that he had raised the issue when he met Schwarzenegger at a Sacramento climate conference in May 2007. At the time he had told reporters that he did not intend mentioning Östberg.

"I chose to do it face to face, just the two of us, on the sidelines. I was evasive when answering questions afterwards. I didn't lie but chose not to always tell the whole truth since, as a goal-oriented politician, I always have to ask myself what the quickest way is to achieve something," said Reinfeldt on Wednesday.

He added that placing Östberg on the official agenda could have jeopardized negotiations.

"I took it up with the governor outside of the official programme. I asked to speak to him on his own and made it clear to him that Sweden was interested in taking over the administration of Annika Ösberg's punishment," said Reinfeldt.

Sweden and California remained in contact over Östberg after the secret meeting.

Attorney Leif Silbersky, who was Östberg's representative 10 years ago, believes the 55-year-old will be released after a short time in a Swedish prison.

“I wouldn't be surprised if she is out within a month. The government will grant her a pardon and release her if it has not guaranteed the US she will remain behind bars. But I find that hard to believe. In that case, it would mean she would have to serve several more years in addition to the many years she has already been imprisoned,” he told TT.

Annika Östberg was found guilty in 1981 of being an accessory to two murders, including that of a policeman.

Östberg moved to California with her mother in the 1960s. As a teenager she experienced serious drug problems and ran away from home.

She later started a relationship with a drug dealer, Brian Cox. In April 1981, the couple argued with restaurant owner, Joe Torre, over money. Cox shot Torre dead.

The following day, Cox and Östberg's car got a puncture and policeman Richard Helbush pulled over to help them. Thinking they were about to be arrested, Cox shot Helbush dead as well.

The couple fled in the police car and were later arrested after a police pursuit and a gunfight. Cox hanged himself in his cell prior to the trial.

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