Ex-Scania managers charged over Iraq deal

Two former managers of truck maker Scania were on Wednesday indicted on charges of violating the UN sanctions against Saddam Husseins's regime in Iraq, the Swedish Ministry for Justice said Wednesday.

“According to the indictment, the company was aware of kickbacks, paid and promised to be paid by front companies it hired, to the Iraqi regime, which was in violation of the sanctions that applied at the time,” the prosecutor said in a statement.

The alleged incidents took place between 2001 and 2003. In accordance with Swedish law, the men’s names have not been released.

Scania said the company had not studied the charges in detail. One of the men was now retired, while the other no longer held an executive position with the company, it said.

A spokesman, Hans-Åke Danielsson, told AFP that Scania would contest the charges and that the company “hasn’t paid any bribes to anybody, and hasn’t asked anyone to do so.”

Sweden is investigating around 15 groups suspected of breaching the UN “Oil for food” programme.

But so far charges have only been pressed against Scania, which in 2009 re-opened a plant in Iraq that was shuttered during the 2003 war, and against Volvo.

The “Oil for food” programme between 1996 and 2003 allowed Baghdad to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian aid and food, in the wake of the sanctions that were imposed against the country after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Millions of dollars were siphoned out of the programme by the Iraqi regime.

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Lund professor freed student from Islamic State war zone

A chemistry professor at Lund University dispatched a team of mercenaries into an Islamic State (also known as IS, Isis or Daesh) war zone to free one of her doctoral students and his family.

Lund professor freed student from Islamic State war zone
Kurdish pershmerga fighters during the battle to retake the Yazidi homeland Mount Sinjar in 2015. File photo: Bram Jansse/AP/TT
Charlotta Turner, professor in Analytical Chemistry, received a text message from her student Firas Jumaah in 2014 telling her to to assume he would not finish his thesis if he had not returned within a week. 
He and his family were, he told her, hiding out in a disused bleach factory, with the sounds of gunshots from Isis warriors roaming the town reverberating around them. Jumaah, who is from Iraq, is a member of the ethno-religious group Yazidi hated by Isis. 
“I had no hope then at all,” Jumaah told Lund's University Magazine LUM. “I was desperate. I just wanted to tell my supervisor what was happening. I had no idea that a professor would be able to do anything for us.” 
Jumaah had voluntarily entered the war zone after his wife had rung him to say that Isis fighters had taken over the next-door village, killing all the men and taking the women into slavery.
“My wife was totally panicking. Everyone was shocked at how IS were behaving,” he said. “I took the first plane there to be with them. What sort of life would I have if anything had happened to them there?”
But Turner was not willing to leave her student to die without trying to do something. 
“What was happening was completely unacceptable,” she told LUM. “I got so angry that IS was pushing itself into our world, exposing my doctoral student and his family to this, and disrupting the research.” 
She contacted the university's then security chief Per Gustafson.  
“It was almost as if he'd been waiting for this kind of mission,” Turner said. “Per Gustafson said that we had a transport and security deal which stretched over the whole world.” 
Over a few days of intense activity, Gustafson hired a security company which then arranged the rescue operation. 
A few days later two Landcruisers carrying four heavily-armed mercenaries roared into the area where Jumaah was hiding, and sped him away to Erbil Airport together with his wife and two small children. 
“I have never felt so privileged, so VIP,” Jumaah told LUM. “But at the same time I felt like a coward as I left my mother and sisters behind me.” 
Firas Jumaah and his former PHD supervisor Charlotta Turner. Photo: Kennet Ruona
Luckily the rest of his family survived Isis occupation, while Jumaah back in Sweden completed his PhD and now works for a pharmaceuticals company in Malmö. The family has almost finished paying the university back for the rescue operation.
“It was a unique event. As far as I know no other university has ever been involved in anything like it,” Gustafson said.