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UPPSALA KIDNAPPING DRAMA

KIDNAPPING

Trio charged in wealthy Swede’s abduction

Three people were charged on Thursday with drugging and kidnapping a 25-year-old student from a wealthy Swedish family and holding him prisoner for more than a week in what one of the suspects said was a "prank".

Trio charged in wealthy Swede's abduction
The room where the 25-year-old victim was held

The 25-year-old student from Uppsala, who comes from a wealthy family, went missing on December 28th, 2011 and was found eight days later in a remote building in northern Sweden.

The three people suspected of the deed, two 26-year-old men and a 23-year-old woman, have now been charged with kidnapping.

In addition, one of the men and the woman have also been charged with attempted blackmail and attempted fraud.

One of the suspects has made a partial confession in the case, which once again hit Swedish media on Friday as news of the charges emerged.

Prosecutor Lars Hedvall reckons the abduction was a well-planned and calculated affair hatched by one of the men and the 23-year-old woman, according to the indictment.

Together with the other man, they acquired a building in Västerbotten in Sweden’s far north, as well as a car and a wheelchair to help carry out the kidnapping.

“The woman contacted the plaintiff a year ago. At the time, he considered her to be a friend,” Hedvall told the TT news agency.

According to the prosecutor, the plan was to blackmail the victim’s well-to-do family “of large amounts of money”.

When it came time to set the plan in action, the 23-year-old went home with the 25-year-old to his flat in Uppsala and offered him a meal and dessert.

“These contained sleeping aids,” said the prosecutor which meant that the victim quickly lost consciousness.

At the same time, the woman’s two male accomplices were standing by in the rented car.

The kidnappers then taped the 25-year-old’s arms and legs together and “put tape over his mouth and eyes” before placing him a wheelchair before whisking him away under the cover of darkness.

Tests on hair samples from the victim revealed high levels of a sleeping aid prosecutors believe was used in the scheme.

“There’s no other plausible explanation other than that he ingested it with the quiche he was served,” said Hedvall.

The trio then drove their gagged and bound victim north and placed him in a small room in a remote building in Västerbotten that lacked heat and electricity where he was held for the following week “under very austere conditions”.

The 25-year-old abductee was told he was “somewhere abroad and that there were guards and dogs outside the building” so that there was no point in trying to escape.

He was also told that his family would be attacked if he tried to flee.

The kidnappers also threatened to pull out the man’s teeth and scald his feed if he didn’t tell them what they wanted to know.

One of the men and the woman then allegedly drove to Linköping in central Sweden where they pilfered a storage space belonging to the man.

On their way back up north to commence with “contact phase in their blackmailing” they were arrested by police.

The 25-year-old man was found after a week in captivity, but prosecutors believe his kidnappers intended to keep him for a longer period of time.

Anders Norman, the defence attorney for one of the men who served as a lookout at the building where the 25-year-old was kept, told TT that his client has partially admitted to the crime.

“He was an accomplice,” Norman told TT, adding that his client was ready to confess to a lesser charge of kidnapping than what prosecutors are seeking.

The other man charged in the case has admitted to many of the facts of the case, but claims that it was “a prank, a bachelor party”, said Hedvall.

The woman, meanwhile, denies having participated in the kidnapping or drugging the 25-year-old.

The trial is scheduled to begin on April 12th in Uppsala.

TT/The Local/dl

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UNIVERSITY

Three Swedish universities earn spots in top 100

Three Swedish universities made it into the top 100 in an annual ranking of the world's best schools on Tuesday, but some of the country's higher education seats dropped from last year.

Three Swedish universities earn spots in top 100
Students at Lund University. Photo: Aline Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se

Lund in southern Sweden was again picked as Sweden's top university and came 73rd in the QS World University Rankings, but dropped three ranks on last year (and down from 60 in 2014).

Eight Swedish universities feature in the QS rankings, and all but three fell in the global list.

The ancient Uppsala University climbed back to the top 100, landing a spot in 98th place. Further down the list, Linköping and Umeå Universities both edged up to 282nd and 294th place, up from 286th and 319th, respectively.

The Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, KTH) dropped from 92nd to 97th place. Gothenburg-based Chalmers University of Technology fell from number 132 to 139 (which is still an improvement on its 175th place in the 2014 QS World University Rankings).

Lund was given a five-star ranking in addition to its place in the list. “Lund is Sweden's most attractive study destination. The compact university campus encourages networking and creates the conditions for scientific breakthroughs and innovations,” read the QS description.

“The university has a clear international profile, with partner universities in over 70 countries. Funding of more than 5 billion kronor a year goes to research at eight faculties, which gives Lund one of Sweden's strongest and broadest ranges of research activity.”

THE LOCAL SWITZERLAND: ETH Zurich best in continental Europe

Now in their 13th year, the annual rankings are compiled by global higher education analysts Quacquerelli Symonds (QS), and rank 916 institutions according to four key pillars: research, teaching employability and internationalization.

For the first time in more than a decade US universities took all three top spots, with MIT placing first for the fifth successive year ahead of Stanford and Harvard, knocking Britain's Cambridge to fourth.

Tuesday's list comes less than a month after the Shanghai Rankings, which picked the Karolinska Institute as the best university in Sweden.