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COLOMBIA

Sweden seeks clarity on FARC suspect arrest

Sweden has demanded an explanation from Venezuela as to why it was not informed about the arrest of one its nationals suspected of links to the FARC rebels or his extradition to Colombia.

“Sweden has asked Venezuela to explain why Swedish authorities were not informed when they arrested a Swedish citizen and extradited him to Colombia,” Swedish foreign ministry spokesman Teo Zetterman told AFP, adding a diplomatic note had been sent Tuesday.

“We have not yet received an answer,” he said.

Colombian-born Joaquin Perez Becerra, 55, who reportedly came to Sweden nearly 20 years ago as a political refugee, was arrested upon his arrival in Venezuela on Saturday on suspicion he was a member of the Marxist rebel group FARC.

Becerra, who had flown to Caracas from Frankfurt and was extradited to Colombia on Monday, reportedly runs ANNCOL, or New Colombia News Agency, a website critical of the Colombian regime and considered by Bogota to be closely linked to FARC.

Zetterman meanwhile said it remained unclear “what he has officially been accused of.”

“We are concentrating on providing him with consular support… The Swedish embassy has been in contact with him and is following the case and has been in touch with his legal representation,” he added.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has accused Becerra of being the “head of the international front of the FARC in Europe,” insisting he had been wanted “for a long time” by Colombian authorities.

Interior Minister German Vargas meanwhile told reporters this week that Becerra “is not a Swedish citizen,” but a Colombian “travelling under another identity and with a Swedish passport,” insisting he could be tried in Colombia without any constraints.

Zetterman however told AFP Wednesday that Becerra had been granted Swedish

citizenship in 2000, insisting Sweden should have been informed about his arrest and extradition.

“There are cases where the person arrested does not want local authorities to contact the authorities in their home country,” he acknowledged, adding “but in this case it was fairly clear that they should have contacted us.”

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COLOMBIA

Swedish firm SCA in Colombian diaper probe

A company owned by scandal-hit Swedish industry giant SCA is suspected of having been part of two secret cartels to push up the price of, among other things, toilet paper and diapers in Colombia, according to a Swedish newspaper.

Swedish firm SCA in Colombian diaper probe
A company partly owned by a Swedish firm is being investigated for alleged diaper cartels. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

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The companies involved are alleged to have entered into secret deals on the prices as well as quality of their products, reported Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday. They are part of an ongoing investigation by Colombian authorities.

Swedish forest and paper group SCA owns 50 percent of one of the firms, Productos Familia, which is a market leader in the Colombian soft paper industry.

The company, which among other things produces diapers and toilet paper, is accused of having been involved in starting these suspected cartels in 1998 and 2000.

“We take all these suspicions seriously. Familia cooperates fully with authorities to assist the investigation. The probe concerns activities up until 2013 and extends to, apart from Colombia, other countries in South America. It is yet too early to say exactly what and which countries are part of this,” SCA sustainability officer Kersti Strandqvist told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Stockholm-based SCA is Europe's largest private owner of forest land and manufactures paper, mainly to be used for personal care products.

The reports come as the company struggles to restore its reputation after reports of “excessive” use of private jets by its corporate heads.

READ MORE: How private jets took down a Swedish industry giant

Earlier this year, it was claimed that managers' families had been taken to a hunting lodge owned by SCA and that spouses and children had accompanied executives on foreign business trips, including to the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

The scandal caused unprecedented upheaval to Sweden's boardrooms, with four of its biggest companies – Handelsbanken, Industrivärden, SCA and steelmaker SSAB – all receiving new chairmen earlier this year.