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Venezuela slams Sweden over FARC deportee

Venezuela's foreign minister Nicolás Maduro is counterattacking Sweden in the Venezuelan press over the arrest and deportation of a Swedish citizen to Colombia.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry asked Venezuela in a note why they did not inform Sweden that they had arrested the 54-year-old Swede when he landed at Caracas International Airport last Saturday.

News agency TT reports that Maduro, in the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, asked why “one of Interpol’s wanted men” was able to travel outside the country.

The Swedish government has still not received an official response, a press secretary for the Swedish Foreign Ministry told TT.

Colombia is accusing the Swede of being the rebel group Farc’s European boss and financier. The government in Bogota has been trying to find the man ever since he was granted political asylum in Sweden nearly 20 years ago.

Maduro told El Universal that Venezuela had followed international law in their handling of the situation. The arrest has been criticized by the opposition in Venezuela.

When Colombian authorities learned that the man was on his way to Venezuela, the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos called his counterpart Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and asked him to arrest and deport the man.

Police flew him to Bogota where the detention hearing was held on Tuesday.

Sweden’s ambassador to Colombia had representatives present during the hearing, Anders Jörle, press secretary for the Swedish Foreign Ministry, told TT. “We have to see that he is treated correctly according to the law,” Jörle said to TT.

“We can’t interfere ourselves but we can demand consular access to him,” he said.

Colombia says that evidence against the Swede consists of emails that were found on a computer belonging to the former Farc rebel leader Paul Reys, who is dead.

The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that the Swede was active with Farc for 30 years. The man denied working with Farc, but said as a journalist he had talked to the guerillas.

He is the editor for the internet site Anncol which is critical of the Colombian government. But the Colombian government says Anncol has ties to Farc.

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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.