Sweden terror suspect denies crimes

One of the four people held in Gothenburg on Sunday on suspicion of preparing terrorism offences has denied the accusations through his lawyer.

Sweden terror suspect denies crimes

“My client denies all suspicions,” said lawyer Ulf Ahlstrand to the Expressen daily.

He told the newspaper that the Security Service (Säpo) has not presented any concrete evidence which incriminates his client.

“We have to presume that the police know something, which they to date have not said very much about,” Ahlstrand said.

Swedish police on Sunday arrested four people suspected of planning a terror attack in the city of Gothenburg and evacuated hundreds of people from a building hosting an art fair.

The arrests were carried out by regional police assisted by an elite counter-terrorism unit, she said, declining to provide any further details pending the investigation.

Police, meanwhile, confirmed that hundreds of people were evacuated Saturday night from Gothenburg’s Röda Sten building, venue of the city’s art biennale, “after concluding that there was a threat that could endanger lives or health or cause serious damage”.

Organisers said about 300 to 400 people were evacuated around midnight.

“We were warned of a possible threat,” biennale official Ulrika Sten told journalists.

“Police helped us evacuate the building,” before searching people and cordoning off the area.

Police would also not give the identities or details of the four suspects, nor the circumstances of their arrest, but the TT news agency reported they were nabbed near the biennale building.

Two Stockholm newspapers noted the coincidence of the suspected terror arrests and the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, but nothing so far indicated any link.

The port of Gothenburg is Sweden’s second biggest city after the capital Stockholm with nearly 600,000 residents.

Säpo said Sunday there was no reason to raise the terror alert for Sweden.

“The threat level to Sweden has remained unchanged since October 1st 2010,

when it was raised by one step, from low to elevated,” Saepo said in a statement.

Henrik Wallgren, who was one of those evacuated from the art centre Saturday night, said police had cleared an area up to 600 metres around the building.

“It was disturbing… the police wanted us to leave quickly … saying that there was a threat against Roeda Sten,” said Wallgren.

“No one wanted any more to be near the building but there wasn’t any panic… everyone remained calm,” said the witness, adding that he was awake all night to waiting to hear an explosion, which never happened.

Another guest at the art centre said her initial reaction was that police interruption of the event was an artistic demonstration, a sort of happening to launch the biennale of contemporary art.

“What is even crazier is that we thought it was an artistic event and we did not take it seriously,” said Katarina Nitsche.

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Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.