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Bunny pic unmasks Swedish benefits cheat

A Swedish man who claimed to be wheelchair bound has been asked to repay millions of kronor in social insurance benefits after authorities obtained a picture of him dancing with a life-sized rabbit.

Bunny pic unmasks Swedish benefits cheat

The 33-year-old man from Halmstad in western Sweden had claimed for years that he was bound to a wheelchair and as a result qualified for public assistance in the form of payments made to “people in his immediate environment” who helped him with daily tasks.

While the doctor who originally examined the man didn’t find any reason as to why the man couldn’t walk, the doctor nevertheless accepted the man’s claims.

Between November 1st, 2005 and January 31st, 2009, the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) paid the man a total of 3,001,741 kronor ($400,000) in benefits.

But the man’s scheme began to unravel back in June 2007 when police raided his home in response to a complaint of abuse and illegal imprisonment.

Among items confiscated by police were several photographs, including a picture of the man dancing with the life-sized bunny which serves as the mascot for the Liseberg amusement park in nearby Gothenburg.

Police then turned over the incriminating photo, along with several others, to the Social Insurance Agency.

“He can stand, walk and dance. In one of the pictures, he is dancing with the Liseberg bunny,” Catharina Andersson of the Halmstad social insurance office told Hallandsposten newspaper.

Upon being confronted with the pictures, the man admitted he was the man in the photo dancing with the fuzzy rabbit.

In his defence, however, he claimed that the picture had been staged because he didn’t want to show off his disability.

But according to Andersson, the 33-year-old can be seen in the photos standing without any support or assistance.

Although prosecutors eventually dropped the original abuse investigation, the man could now face charges of benefits fraud.

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OFFBEAT

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim

Police on the island of Gotland removed a public sculpture from the Galgberget nature reserve near Visby on the grounds that it is just too creepy.

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim
The gallows at Galgeberget. Photo: Artifex/WikiCommons
According to local news site Hela Gotland, someone was out for a stroll on Galgeberget (the Gallows Hill) on Wednesday when they saw what they thought was a body hanging after a suicide. Local police were contacted but when they went to investigate they instead found a sculpture by artist Jessica Lundeberg. 
 
The artwork, entitled ‘The Watcher in the Woods’, is a partially transparent plate sculpture that looks like a spooky little girl. 
 
 
Despite discovering that the suspected suicide victim was actually artwork, police determined that Lundeberg’s piece could scare others and thus took the sculpture down. 
 
“It was decided that if it were to remain, more people would likely be frightened in the same way,” Gotland police spokesman Ayman Aboulaich told Radio P4 Gotland. 
 
Lundeberg told Hela Gotland that the sculpture has been at Galgeberget since a public art project last summer and that this was the first time it had caused any concern. She said ‘The Watcher in the Woods’ was the only piece that was allowed to remain after the end of the project. But now it is there no more. 
 
 
Lundeberg has taken the sculpture back to her studio. While she hopes it will eventually return to Galgeberget, the artist told Hela Gotland it seems unlikely.  
 
She said that the sculpture was damaged by police. 
 
“It was ragged, dismantled and broken. I was horrified when I saw it,” she said. 
 
Police have reportedly promised to pay any necessary repair costs.
 
Although the person who reported the sculpture to the police has not spoken with the media, their jump to conclusions could perhaps be attributed to the nature reserve’s macabre history. Galgeberget is still home to gallows that were used to hang criminals for centuries. The last execution to be held at the site was in 1845, according to Hela Gotland
 
 
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