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‘Offensive not to punish prison breaks’

The Christian Democrat party wants to criminalize breaking out of prison, which at present can be punished with withdrawn privileges for the inmate in Swedish jail.

'Offensive not to punish prison breaks'

While only 26 inmates escaping Swedish prisons in 2012, according to statistics from the Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården), a section of the Christian Democrat party wants to make it illegal to try to make a break for freedom.

"I think most people feel it's quite offensive that you can try to escape your sentence without it having any consequences," said Christian Democrat Bengt Germundsson, head of Markaryd municipality, who is set to argue for the party including the proposal at its next national congress.

While the Christian Democrats are one of the smaller parties in parliament, they are an Alliance government coalition partner.

The Christian Democrats, who support a criminalization, referred to Sweden's Nordic neighbours, where breaking out of prison can entail between six months or two years in prison. Germundsson, meanwhile, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that he did not want comment on how harsh any potential new sentencing should be.

"I am not a lawyer and I don't have the competency to judge that. But we'll review that question," he said.

The proposal has the support of the party's youth wing.

"It's about sending signals. Good behaviour in prison should be promoted and bad behaviour should be discouraged," said former youth wing head Aron Modig.

Yet such a criminalization would risk not deterring the prisoners most likely to try to escape, argued Björn Eriksson, the government researcher who reviewed prison breaks following several high-profile escapes in 2004.

"These inmates have in general committed serious crimes and are serving long sentences. Given those circumstances, the threat of another sentence will hardly stop them from trying to escape," he told Svenska Dagbladet.

"Although it might be a deterrent for inmates serving shorter sentences, but that question falls outside my remit."

TT/The Local/at

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COURT

Swedish man locked up for porn surfer extortion

A Swedish man who sent bills to thousands of alleged porn surfers and threatened to publish their names if they failed to pay has been sentenced to two and a half years' jail for extortion.

Swedish man locked up for porn surfer extortion
A Swedish man has been sentenced to prison. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/SCANPIX

The 42-year-old, who had acquired the Swedish rights for streaming videos on a foreign website, sent bills to people he claimed had watched the clips, demanding payment ranging from tens to hundreds of euros.

For those who refused to pay, he raised the amount and threatened to call the police or publish their names on an online “porn blacklist” detailing which videos they had watched and then refused to pay for.

He admitted to 31 cases of aggravated extortion and to 526 cases of attempted extortion. The offences took place in 2012 and 2013.

“The district court has determined that the plaintiffs were subjected to aggravated extortion in the cases where it is proven that they received a bill of this kind,” a court in Malmö, southern Sweden, said in a statement on Monday.

The man told the regional daily Sydsvenskan in 2013 that he had earned millions of kronor (hundreds of thousands of dollars) legally through his website from users who had agreed to the prices mentioned in its terms and conditions.

Although users never left their contact details on the site, he was able to trace them through a list of IP addresses he bought from Sweden's largest internet service provider.