Auschwitz theft suspect extradited ‘this week’

Former Swedish neo-Nazi Anders Högström is to be extradited to Poland this week to answer charges in connection with the theft of the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from the Auschwitz death camp, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Auschwitz theft suspect extradited 'this week'

“He hasn’t appealed, the decision is final since the 1st of April,” the prosecutor in charge of the case, Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström, told AFP.

“Then according to the law the Polish authorities have 10 days to come and get him, so the 10th of April is the last day to come and get him,” she added.

“We keep him here in Stockholm until they come and get him … but I can confirm that he’s still in Stockholm.”

Högström, 34, was arrested on February 11th over the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign which disappeared on December 18 from over the gate of the notorious World War II camp set up in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany.

On March 11th, a Stockholm court allowed his extradition to Poland to face trial for the theft.

Högström in 1994 founded the National Socialist Front, a Swedish neo-Nazi movement he headed for five years before quitting.

He has told Swedish media he was supposed to act as an intermediary to pick up the sign and sell it to a buyer, but claimed that he ended up informing Polish police about the people behind the plot.

Polish police recovered the five-metre metal sign, whose German inscription means “Work Will Set You Free”, on December 20, two days after the theft. They arrested and charged five Polish men.

The sign, which had been cut into three parts, was returned by investigators to the Auschwitz museum on January 21, less than a week before commemorations marking the 65th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Soviet Russian troops.

The sign has long symbolised the horror of the camp where some 1.1 million people – one million of them Jews – were victims of Nazi German genocide from 1940 to 1945.

Polish judicial authorities indicted Högström in January and issued a European arrest warrant for him on February 2, after Sweden provided additional information on his place of birth, parents’ names and residence.

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Clashes break out in Stockholm at right-wing event

A gathering of far-right activists in Stockholm turned violent on Friday evening as participants fought counter-demonstrators.

Clashes break out in Stockholm at right-wing event
Police break up a scuffle at Friday's demonstration. Photo:
The right-wing extremist network Nordisk ungdom (Nordic Youth) had called on like-minded supporters across Scandinavia to gather in Stockholm and march to the King Karl XII statue in Kungsträdgården park in the city centre.  
The event was to mark the 300th anniversary of Karl XII’s death, which is commonly celebrated by nationalists and neo-Nazis in Sweden. Previous events held on the anniversary of his death have turned violent in both Stockholm and Lund and Friday proved no exception. 
According to police, a number of fights broke out between Nordic Youth members and counter-demonstrators. Two people were arrested and one police officer was injured when he was sprayed with pepper spray.
“Two people were arrested. One for violence against a public official and one for violating the knife law. We tried to separate the groups and see to it that they stopped fighting,” police spokesman Mats Eriksson said.
Nordic Youth had obtained a police permit for their demonstration and announced ahead of Friday’s event that they expected upwards of 300 supporters. 
Members of Nordic Youth are believed to have been behind an attack on a group of people protesting against the deportation of asylum seekers last year. The group has previously been behind similar attacks and were involved in an interruption at last year’s Stockholm Pride parade.
On its website, Nordic Youth says its members are “political artists whose goal and purpose is to provoke and awaken peoples’ emotions” and it rails against “a global power structure” and “an equation and levelling of all cultures”. It says it wants to “re-civilize the West, retake Sweden, Scandinavia and Europe”. 
Member’s of Sweden’s more openly Nazi group, the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), were not believed to have been part of Friday’s event. Jonathan Leman, a researcher at the Swedish anti-racism foundation Expo, said he would not be surprised if NRM stayed away. 
“To oversimplify it, the white power movement is made up of two blocs: NRM and all the rest. It will be the rest that will rally around this,” Leman said ahead of Friday’s demonstration. 
Heléne Lööw, a professor of history at Uppsala University and an expert on right-wing movements, said that the importance of King Karl XII’s death anniversary has waned in recent years but he still remains a symbol of the white nationalist movement. 
Karl XII fought a series of battles against Russia, Denmark, Saxony and Poland. Between 1715 and 1718 he ruled Sweden from Lund. He was killed in Fredriksten, Norway, on November 30th 1718 by a shot to the head.