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EXTORTION

Norwegian man jailed for kidnapping rich Swedes

A 45-year-old Norwegian man on trial for kidnapping, robbing and extorting several million kronor from wealthy Swedes was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Tuesday.

Philip Holst-Cappelen was the leader of a gang that targeted well-to-do Swedes, including a 47-year-old millionaire in Gothenburg and a similarly aged banker in Stockholm in 2010.

Both kidnappings were carried out in a similar fashion, with Holst-Cappelen and his associates attacking their victims in their homes before putting them in handcuffs and leg chains and covering their mouths with duct tape.

The victims were then forced by threat of violence to transfer more than 15 million kronor ($2.4 million) to Holst-Cappelen’s bank account.

Prosecutor Ulrika Lindsö, who had argued for an 18-year prison sentence, said the long sentence was justified.

“The crime that the complainants have been subjected to is unique in its character. They have suffered extreme hardship and distress,” she told the TT news agency.

The Gothenburg businessman lay bound in his apartment from March 31st through April 6th, 2010.

Because the force used against him was so extreme, the crime was classified as aggravated robbery rather than extortion, the Stockholm District Court wrote in its ruling.

The Stockholm banker was also brutally attacked and tied up. Holst-Cappelen then told the man his “daughter was in danger if he screamed”.

The ruling comes despite the fact that Holst-Cappelen didn’t give his version of events. He has refused to answer questions through the entirety of the legal proceedings.

Thus, he has neither denied nor admitted to the crimes.

The evidence, however, leaves “no room for doubt”, wrote the court.

Holst-Cappelen was convicted following detailed accounts and clear identification by both of the victims. In addition, investigators found both DNA and fingerprints from Holst-Cappelen in the apartments where the attacks took place.

There is also documentation showing how the money was transferred.

“We had very solid evidence,” said prosecutor Lindsö.

Holst-Cappelen’s attorney, Per Larsson, refused to comment on the ruling.

Holst-Cappelen was convicted on two counts of kidnapping, two counts of aggravated robbery, and two counts of obstruction of justice and making illegal threats.

After he serves his sentence, he is to be expelled from Sweden for life.

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EXPLOSION

Suspects admit Ikea blasts: prosecutor

Two Polish men, under suspicion of being behind a series of explosions in several European Ikea outlets, have owned up to their involvement, Polish prosecutors said on Thursday.

Suspects admit Ikea blasts: prosecutor

“The two men have admitted the facts and described the circumstances of their campaign,” Elzbieta Czerepak, spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in the southwestern city of Wroclaw, told AFP.

The men, who due to reporting restrictions can be identified only as Adam K. and Mikolaj G., are both 38.

Czerepak said they acted out of a desire for material gain.

After they were arrested in early October, Polish police said the men were suspected of having tried to extract a €6 million ($8 million) ransom from Ikea in exchange for calling off their campaign.

Booby-trapped alarm clocks blew up at Ikea stores in Belgium, France and the Netherlands on May 30th, while a blast in the kitchen equipment department of a store in Dresden, Germany, reportedly left two customers needing hospital treatment on June 10th.

On September 2nd police evacuated two stores in the Czech Republic, defusing a booby-trapped device found near one of them.

Adam K. has been identified as a former manager for several leading firms, with solid multilingual, technical and IT skills.

Mikolaj G., meanwhile, has a record for drug trafficking.

The two men risk up to 12 years behind bars if found guilty, according to Czerepak.

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