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TRAFFICKING

Family acquitted in teen ‘sex slave’ trial

A Serbian mother, a father and their 25-year-old son, charged with trafficking after allegedly having "purchased" a 14-year-old girl in Serbia and bringing her to Sweden to serve as the mentally handicapped son's wife were freed on Monday.

The Gothenburg district court said it could not be proved that the girl was

brought to Sweden for those purposes and acquitted the parents, aged 45 and 49.

The prosecutor in the case, Thomas Ahlstrand, had argued that the family believed their son’s condition would improve if he had a wife and a child, so they bought the girl for him from her father in the Serbian capital, paying 1,000 euros ($1,360).

Ahlstrand claimed the girl was then held captive by the family in an apartment from October 2010 until November 2011, when police received an anonymous tip about a girl being held against her will.

He also said she suffered a miscarriage during her ordeal.

However, the prosecutor’s case was based mainly on the girl’s statements to police.

“During the trial in the district court she changed her statements compared to what she had told police. She also changed her statements from one day to the next during the trial,” a statement from the court said.

“It is therefore unclear which of her statements are erroneous or exaggerated,” it said.

Neither was there any evidence that the first intercourse had taken place before the girl was fifteen, four months after her arrival to Sweden, according to the district court.

When the girl had been taken to the doctor she had been there under an assumed name, which indicated foul play, at the same time as the court concluded that she had not been as controlled by the 45-year-old woman as had been previously believed.

The girl had told police that the 45-year-old woman had beaten her on the upper body on at least three occasions, but as she had no evidence corroborating her story, the charges were dropped.

The son was also acquitted of charges of raping a minor, while the mother was acquitted of charges of physically abusing and threatening the girl as well as rape or accessory to rape.

The parents and the son had denied all charges.

Prosecutor Ahlstrand said on Monday that he hasn’t read the verdict yet and has therefore not decided whether or not he will appeal.

The girl’s lawyer Hild Andersch said she would discuss the matter with her client on Tuesday and see what she said.

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ROMA

Sweden fails to cut number of ‘vulnerable EU migrants’

The number of homeless beggars from Romania and Bulgaria living in Sweden is as high as it was three years ago, according to the new government figures.

Sweden fails to cut number of 'vulnerable EU migrants'
A man begs with a sign asking for work. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT
“There are around 4,500 to 5,000 vulnerable EU citizens currently in Sweden,” Claes Ling-Vannerus, Sweden's national coordinator on the issue, told Swedish state broadcaster SVT.
 
This is the same number estimated in a report  three years ago from Martin Valfridsson, who was appointed by the Swedish government to investigate the issue and what to do about it. 
 
Sweden appointed the national coordinator to work with the governments of Romania and Bulgaria on providing aid to ethnic Roma communities to reduce the attraction of travelling to other European countries to beg. 
 
Municipalities across Sweden and volunteer organisation have offered shelter and food to those in need. 
 
Others have taken a tougher approach, with police this year starting to enforce a begging ban in Vellinge, near Malmö, the first municipality in Sweden to bring in such a ban.
 
 
Ling-Vannerus said that Sweden had recently been seeing growing numbers of poor people from Romania and Bulgaria being put to work “in substandard conditions” as cleaners or builders, or in car garages. 
 
“My conclusion is that it is very attractive to come to Sweden with the life we live here and with free movement of people, it's hard to stop that.” 
 
Sweden appointed the national coordinator to work with the governments of Romania and Bulgaria on providing aid to poor ethnic Roma communities in their countries to reduce the attraction of travelling to other European countries to beg. 
 
Municipalities across Sweden and volunteer organisation have offered shelter and food to the help those who travel to Sweden. 
 
This year police began enforcing a begging ban in Vellinge, near Malmö, the first municipality in Sweden to bring in such a measure. 
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