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AFGHANISTAN

‘We killed Swedish soldiers’: Taliban

The Taliban has claimed that it was behind the attack that killed two Swedish solders and their Afghan interpreter on Sunday.

'We killed Swedish soldiers': Taliban

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid made the claim to local newspapers as well as on one of the militant Islamist group’s websites, according to a report from Javed Hamim Kakar at the Afghan news agency Pajhwok.

Mujahid is known as an official Taliban spokesperson under the leadership of Mullah Omar, head of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In an interview with Swedish news agency TT in the autumn, Mujahid said:

“Send your troops home. We do not want to kill Swedes and we do not want you to kill Afghans, but that will be the result of the troops’ presence.”

“Furthermore, the Swedish troops are not here to defend Sweden. Or to help the people of Afghanistan. You are here on the orders of the USA – you are the Americans’ slaves.”

Whether the claims of responsibility for the killings are true or false is impossible to establish. It is well known that the Taliban has a tendency to claim responsibility for every attack it deems successful.

28-year-old Captain Johan Palmlöv and 31-year-old Lieutenant Gunnar Andersson, and their Afghan interpreter Mohammad Shahab Ayouby, were part of a 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.

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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