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AFGHANISTAN

Three arrested for killing of Swedish soldiers

Three men have been arrested in Afghanistan on suspicion of being connected to the deaths of the two Swedish soldiers near Mazar-e Sharif on Sunday, according to a report in the Expressen newspaper.

Three arrested for killing of Swedish soldiers

“The police believe that they could have a connection to the man who shot,” the newspaper’s correspondent reports from the Swedish Camp Northern Lights in Mazar-e Sharif.

“The police are talking as if they are terrorists, but can not say which group they belong to before the investigation is completed,” the correspondent reports.

The plane due to carry the slain soldiers home to Sweden has been delayed.

The plane had been due to carry 28-year-old Captain Johan Palmlöv and 31-year-old Lieutenant Gunnar Andersson home from Afghanistan on Tuesday and had been scheduled to land at around 6pm local time at Ärna airport near Uppsala.

Due to adverse weather conditions in Afghanistan the plane was not able to take off, according to a Swedish military statement on Tuesday morning.

“As soon as the weather allows the plane will take off from the German airforce base Marmal outside of Mazar-e Sharif.”

A farewell ceremony will be held for the Swedish officers in the chapel at Camp Northern Lights just prior to their departure to give their fellow soldiers the chance to pay their respects.

A further homecoming ceremony will be held at Ärna airport on arrival.

In the two days following the death of the officers and their Afghan interpreter Shahab, the Swedish forces in Afghanistan have been working intensively to offer support to those soldiers that remain stationed in the war-torn country.

In a statement on the Swedish military’s website, it is underlined that support from Sweden has been important in this work.

“We are grateful for the support given by friends and acquaintances and from the Swedish people,” said Lieutenant Mattias Isaksson, rifle company platoon commander.

“It gives us extra strength to carry on with our important work. Johan’s and Gunnar’s deaths should not be in vain,” Lieutenant Colonel Gustaf Wallerfelt continued.

Swedish public opinion remains in favour of maintaining troops in Afghanistan despite Sunday’s death, a new Sifo poll published in the Aftonbladet newspaper on Tuesday shows.

Almost half of the Swedish population, 46 percent, think that the troops should stay with 35 percent stating that the 500-strong Swedish ISAF-led force (FS18) should be brought home. 19 percent expressed no opinion.

The changes on a previous poll from 2009 are only marginal.

Of the parliamentary political parties, only the Left Party has expressed open opposition to the deployment.

Palmlöv, Andersson and Shahab were part of the patrol which came under fire on Sunday near a police station, 40 kilometres west of Mazar-e Sharif, near the village of Gurgi Tappeh.

Soldiers in the patrol have confirmed that their attacker was dressed in an Afghan police officer’s uniform. His identity is the subject of the military police investigation.

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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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