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LIBYA

Swedes lifted from Libya

After sending a military transport plane to Libya to evacuate foreign and Swedish nationals, seven Swedes have now safely arrived in Paris, a stop over before heading home.

Authorities hope an eighth Swede, coming from Ericsson offices outside the capital city, is able fly out from Tripoli later today.

13 Swedes in Tripoli, three in Benghazi and a few scattered elsewhere in the country have said they want out of Libya.

“There are about 20 Swedes we’re working on getting home,” said the Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Cecilia Julin.

About 20 of the 40 Swedes living or working in Libya told authorities they wanted to leave and the first began to be moved out on Sunday, Julin told the AFP.

Despite advise from the Foreign Ministry to evacuate the embattled Libya, others have said they want to wait to see how the situation develops or they would leave on their own, she said.

In Valletta, Malta, the British have set up a collaborative center of operation where aid efforts to Libya from several countries will be coordinated.

“We have decided to contribute to the effort with a Hercules Plane,” said Julin, the ministry’s communications manager.

The Swedish Hercules plane is expected to land in Valletta later this evening.

While the plane will be used to lift foreign nationals out from Libya, it also will deliver loads of medical equipment and supplies into the tumultuous nation.

“There is, of course, a severe shortage of medical supplies,” explained Julin.

She said the stock of medical aid is likely to be shipped to any of Libya’s coastal cities.

The question remains if the medical goods will to go to Benghazi, which is currently held by rebels against Gaddafi, or to the capital, Tripoli, still controlled by the regime.

“It’ll probably be determined and coordinated in Malta,” said Julin.

Sweden closed its embassy in Tripoli in 1995.

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EUROPEAN UNION

Swedish Match reveals ‘snus bribe’ sum

Tobacco producer Swedish Match claimed on Friday it was offered the opportunity to pay €60 million ($78 million) to thwart new EU tobacco legislation in a scandal that has cost Europe's top health official his job.

Swedish Match reveals 'snus bribe' sum

“I can say that those are the amounts we are talking about, and I’d also like to stress that for us the amount of money does not matter,” company spokesman Patrik Hildingsson told AFP.

Health and consumer commissioner John Dalli said he had been asked to resign on Tuesday after he was cited in a tobacco-linked influence peddling fraud probe.

The European Commission announced his resignation on Tuesday “with immediate effect” following an investigation by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office, into a complaint by Swedish Match.

The Maltese commissioner has maintained his innocence, claiming he is the victim of a tobacco lobbying campaign to block tough new rules to make smoking less attractive.

In February, Dalli oversaw proposals that would tighten regulations on the use of flavouring in tobacco, which would have included non-tobacco products such as snus, or Swedish snuff.

Snus is a moist powder tobacco originating from dry snuff. Though its sale is illegal across the EU, it is manufactured and used in Sweden, which has an exemption, and Norway, which is not an EU member.

Hildingsson said the alleged €60 million bribe to a Maltese businessman with links to Dalli would have been paid in two installments, with €10 million due before new legislation was enacted and the remaining €50 million to be paid when the new rules were in place.

AFP/The Local

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