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COLOMBIA

Sweden demands answers on FARC arms

Sweden called on Venezuela on Monday to explain how Swedish-made weapons sold to the South American country ended up in the hands of Colombian FARC guerillas.

Sweden demands answers on FARC arms

“We have asked the officials of the government of Venezuela to give us information on how they believe this material was found in Colombia,” said Jens Eriksson, a political advisor to the Swedish Industry Ministry.

“We have it confirmed that a small amount of (defence) material made in Sweden has been found in a FARC camp,” Eriksson said, stressing that no Swedish company had ever been granted a permit to sell to Colombia.

Later on Monday, Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said a number of anti-tank weapons had been seized from FARC rebels, adding that they had been purchased by Venezuela in Europe.

“In several operations in which we have recovered weapons from the FARC, we’ve found powerful ammunition (and) powerful equipment, including anti-tank weapons which a European country sold to Venezuela and which turned up in the hands of the FARC,” Santos told Colombia’s Caracol radio.

The FARC is Latin America’s oldest and largest insurgency, and has been battling the government in Bogota for 45 years.

On Monday, Venezuela’s Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami denounced Sweden’s statements as a “new attack” against his country, while Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro described them as a way for neighboring Colombia to “justify” its recent military pact with the United States.

An agreement announced earlier this month allowing US forces to use three Colombian military bases for South American anti-drug operations has heightened tensions between Colombia and its neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Monday warned that the FARC “now are seeking to buy some surface-to-air devices to try and shoot down our planes,” and asked for help from the international community to thwart such attempts.

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported on July 20 that the weapons in question were AT4 rocket launchers produced by Saab Bofors Dynamics in Sweden.

Chief executive Tomas Samuelsson confirmed the weapons found by Colombian authorities were indeed made by the company.

“We have been informed that our weapons have been found in the camp,” he told AFP.

“All countries that we export to have to sign an ‘end user’ certificate otherwise export will not be permitted. Unfortunately, sometimes a weapon shows up where it shouldn’t be but that is very rare. When that happens, it is normally theft,” Samuelsson said.

Saab Bofors Dynamics is a subsidiary of the Swedish defence company Saab – a separate company from the automaker of the same name – that employs 13,300 people worldwide.

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BUSINESS

Sweden’s Volvo gives $6.7m to US family

The family of a one-year-old girl who suffered irreversible brain damage after getting trapped in a Volvo car's electric window is to be awarded almost seven million dollars (55.6m kronor) by the Swedish firm.

Sweden's Volvo gives $6.7m to US family
Volvo is based in west Sweden. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
The compensation payment was ordered by a federal jury in Albuquerque in New Mexico after it ruled that the car, a 2001 S60 model, had been defective.
 
The jury had listened to two weeks of testimony before reaching an agreement on the damages, following a long legal battle first launched in 2012 by the baby's father, named by US media as Andres Rivera.
 
It heard that the girl – called Alana – had suffered permanent brain damage after accidentally activating an electric window and getting her neck trapped in it, preventing oxygen from reaching her brain. Her injuries were so severe that she will never be able to live independently.
 
The jurers were told that the baby was hurt while her father was taking nap, following a stressful day at work. He had previously released her from her car seat. A passerby saw the lifeless girl hanging out of the window and banged on the car to wake him up and alert him to her distress, before calling the authorities.
 
Volvo has always maintained that the accident was Andres Rivera's fault. However the firm, which first launched in west Sweden in 1927, later changed the design of its electric windows, without recalling earlier models.
 
The Albuquerque federal jury suggested that the father should take 30 percent of the responsibility for the girl's injuries, with Volvo judged to be 70 percent at fault.
 
According to local newspaper the Albuquerque Journal, Alana spent a month in hospital after the accident and has since undergone intensive medical treatment and physiotherapy.
 
She was well-adjusted enough to start kindergarten in 2014, the paper reported, but still struggles with her speech.
 
James Ragan, the family's lawyer, told the newspaper that he was impressed by the girl's parents, who had previously lost another child to brain cancer. 
 
“I’ve been amazed at their ability to weather difficulties and be a family,” he said. “I’m astounded at their ability to carry on.”
 
Neither Volvo headquarters nor lawyers for the company immediately made a statement following the hearing.