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AFGHANISTAN

Swedish officers killed by friendly fire: report

Two Swedish officers who were shot to death in Afghanistan in February last year appear to have been killed by Swedish bullets.

Swedish officers killed by friendly fire: report

The findings come from an autopsy report as well as an internal investigation by Sweden’s Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten), TV4 news reported on Tuesday.

The bullet holes in the Swedes were of a size which corresponds to the caliber of Swedish ammunition. The Afghan man who shot at the Swedes had ammunition caliber of 7.62 millimetres, while the Swedish ammunition had a caliber of 5.56 millimetres.

The autopsy report also shows that the entry wounds are higher up on the Swedes’ bodies than the exit wounds.

According to the angle of the wound, the shots came from a location four metres high and thus could have been fired from a Swedish armoured vehicle standing near the side of the road when the firefight took place, according to TV4.

Swedish officers Gunnar Andersson and Johan Palmlöv, as well as their Afghan interpreter Mohammad Shahab Ayoulay were shot to death on February 7th of last year in the village of Gurgi Tappeh, about 35 kilometres from Swedish headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif.

An Afghan man dressed in a police officer’s uniform opened fire on the Swedes and their interpreter. The Afghan was then killed by return fire.

In the wake of the deaths of Andersson, Palmlöv, and Ayoulay rumours began circulating that they may have been killed by friendly fire. At first, the Armed Forced dismissed the rumours, saying on March 12th of last year that there was no evidence to suggest the three had been killed by Swedish bullets.

But on March 25th, the Armed Forces admitted that they could not rule out the possibility that the officers and their interpreter had been hit by friendly fire, but that they had likely been killed by the initial shots from the Afghan man.

On July 12th, chief prosecutor Krister Petersson announced he was closing a preliminary investigation launched following the shootings. Once again, it emerged that friendly fire could not be ruled out.

Green Party spokesperson Peter Eriksson reacted strongly against the Armed Forces upon hearing the news that the officers had been killed by Swedish bullets.

“I think it’s a scandal that the Riksdag and the Swedish people learned about this from the media. I think that the Riksdag should have been informed a long time ago about how things really happened,” he told the TT news agency.

Eriksson was critical of Swedish military for attempted to downplay the matter.

“I demand that a full account is given to the Rikgdag about what really happened,” he said.

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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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