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AFGHANISTAN

Swedish officers ‘executed’ in Afghanistan

The attack which left two Swedish officers and their Afghan interpreter dead in February has been described as a "pure execution" in an Armed Forces reported on the incident published on Thursday.

The report did not however rule out friendly fire.

“They did not have a chance to defend themselves,” army inspector Berndt Grundevik said.

The Armed Forces have concluded that the three men died of two hails of bullet which lasted for eight to ten seconds.

The attacker was clad in an Afghanistan police officer’s uniform.

Johan Palmlöv, Gunnar Andersson, and Mohammad Shahab Ayouby, fell immediately to the ground when the party was attacked near Mazar-e Sharif on February 7th.

“The three were killed by an initial hail of shots from a lone attacker,” Grundevik said.

“To shoot at stationary people at that distance makes it very hard to miss.”

Following the shots the Swedish troops pursued the fleeing attacker. They shot him, he dropped his machine gun, but got up and tried to keep running.

The soldiers actions could have prevented a massacre, according to Berndt Grundevik.

In recent weeks several Swedish media sources have speculated that the soldiers could have been hit by shots from their own troops, so-called friendly fire.

“We can not rule out stray bullets from the Swedish personnel,” said the head of legal staff, Stefan Ryding-Berg, who otherwise referred to confidentiality.

A third Swedish soldier, a signaller, was injured in both feet.

The firefight left Andersson and Palmlöv mortally wounded and Shahab dead. A helicopter was ordered but the officers were already in a medical transport vehicle and the decision was taken to drive to the hospital in Marmal.

But on the way to Marmal an armoured vehicle got stuck in terrain and the road was blocked. A new helicopter was called in, but while waiting for the helicopter several more Swedish vehicles joined and the convoy was able to continue to its destination, an hour and 35 minutes after the attack.

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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