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SWEDES ON TRIAL IN ETHIOPIA

TERRORISM

Swedes’ terror trial in Ethiopia delayed

The trial of two Swedish journalists arrested in Ethiopia on suspicions of terror crimes will be delayed until Thursday.

The Swedes arrived in an Ethiopian court Tuesday for the start of their trial on terrorism charges, but the hearing was pushed back until Thursday, their lawyer said.

Photographer Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye, both freelancers, have been held in jail since they were arrested on July 1 with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels after a battle with government troops.

However, the trial was delayed to allow lawyers to be appointed for two fellow co-accused, Somalis who Addis Ababa accuses of crossing with the Swedes and the ONLF illegally into Ethiopia.

“The first and second defendant were not represented by law,” defence lawyer Sileshi Ketsela told reporters outside the courtroom, adding that a public defence lawyer would be appointed for the two Somalis.

“We were supposed to present our objections to the charges… but since it has to be heard together with the other defendants it was postponed,” Sileshi added.

An AFP reporter at the court said the Swedes, dressed in collared shirts, smiled at the court room, packed with around a hundred people. As they left the courtroom, Schibbye — who turned 31 on Monday — blew a kiss to the crowd, which was mostly foreigners.

The ONLF, formed in 1984, has been fighting for the independence of the remote southeastern Ogaden, populated mainly by ethnic Somalis, which the rebels say has been marginalised by Addis Ababa.

The Swedes were charged last month with being engaged in terrorist activities, aiding and abetting a terrorist group, and entering the country illegally without permission from neighbouring Somalia.

Rights groups have already criticised the process of the trial, after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said in an interview last week that the Swedes were “at the very least messenger boys of a terrorist organisation.”

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BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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