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AFGHANISTAN

Injured soldiers back on Swedish soil

Two of the five soldiers injured in Wednesday's bomb explosion in Afghanistan landed back home in Sweden on Thursday evening. A further two aircraft with medical personnel onboard have been dispatched to bring back other soldiers involved in the incident.

The first aircraft landed at Ärna airport, north of Uppsala at 19.00 Swedish time on Thursday evening.

The two solders, a 40-year-old from Helsingborg and a 23-year-old from Motala, were taken directly to Uppsala University hospital. The two are reported to be in a critical condition.

Soldiers and military personnel were at the airport to greet them, including General Major Berndt Grundevik.

”It feels safe to have the first two back home” he told newspaper Dagens Nyheter. ”They will receive the best care possible.”

After the explosion, in which their vehicle hit a roadside explosive, the five were were taken to a field hospital located at Camp Marmal, home of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). A 22-year.old Afghanistan interpreter died in the attack.

The group was travelling in a BAE Land Systems light armoured patrol vehicle, known colloquially in Sweden as Galten (‘the Boar’).

Earlier this year the Boar replaced the civil Toyata Land Cruiser, which came under criticism for its poor safety record.

”We don’t want to comment on the exact safety levels for obvious reasons but thankfully they were driving a Galten and not a Toyota,” Patrik Persson, the military’s security experts told DN.

An investigation is due to take place into the rescue operation which was subject to delay. The group were evacuated from the scene two hours after the explosion by American military helicopters.

The Swedish Armed Forces claim they could have been transported from the area in 25 minutes.

A second aircraft is expected to land around lunchtime on Friday with a third injured soldier onboard. A further plane has been dispatched to Afghanistan to bring home a fourth solider who is reported to be the most seriously injured.

”It is still unknown when the soldier’s condition will be stable enough for him to return home,” the Swedish Armed Forces said in a statement.

After receiving medical treatment, the fifth soldier returned to the Swedish base camp outside Mazar-i-Sharif. It is unknown as to whether he will return to duty.

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AFGHANISTAN

Swedish student to face trial after anti-deportation protest that stopped flight

The Swedish student who livestreamed her onboard protest against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker will go on trial on Monday.

Swedish student to face trial after anti-deportation protest that stopped flight
Elin Ersson. File photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Elin Ersson will appear at Gothenburg District Court, charged with violating Sweden’s Aviation Act.

Ersson protested in July last year against the Swedish government's policy of deporting some rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan by boarding an Istanbul-bound flight that carried an Afghan man who was to be returned home after being denied asylum.

With a ticket for the flight that was purchased by the activist group 'Sittstrejken i Göteborg', the activist boarded the aircraft and then refused to sit down until the Afghan man was let off. Flights are not allowed to take off until all passengers are safely in their seats.

Ersson livestreamed her protest on Facebook, where it was viewed over five million times.

Eventually, Ersson was told that the man would be let off the plane and she was also removed by airport security.

According to the prosecutor in the trial, which will take place Monday, Ersson acknowledges her actions in the incident but said her objections were based on her morals and argues that she did not act illegally as the plane was not in the air at the time of her protest.

“I believe that she is guilty of a crime which I can prove and which she will not admit. The court will therefore determine this,” prosecutor James von Reis told TT when charges were brought against the student.

In an interview with the news agency in July last year, Ersson was asked how she sees the view that her actions can be considered criminal.

“The key issue for me is that the man who was to be deported is human and deserves to live. In Sweden we do not have the death penalty, but deportation to a country which is at war can mean death,” she said.

The trial is expected to be completed within one day and Ersson’s defence has sent supplementary evidence to the court.

That consists of a legal statement by Dennis Martinsson, a lawyer in criminal law at Stockholm University. In the 13-page statement, Martinsson argues that the Aviation Act is phrased in a way which makes it questionable whether it is applicable to what Ersson did.

According to the legal expert, the relevant paragraph only applies to requests made by the aircraft’s commanding officer. Investigation of the incident found that Ersson was instructed to take her seat by “cabin crew on board”.

Further, the law states that criminal liability applies to passengers who do not comply with instructions “during a flight”, a description which Martinsson argues cannot be applied to an aircraft on the ground waiting to depart.

There is no precedent in interpretation of the law, he also writes according to TT’s summary.

The extent to which those arguments will affect the outcome of Monday’s case remains to be seen.

The penalty for violation of the Aviation Act is a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months.

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