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Swedish police probe mysterious powder

UPDATED: Suspicious white powder sent to Sweden's public broadcaster SVT's offices in Blekinge has been found to be harmless, a police spokesperson told The Local on Wednesday afternoon.

Swedish police probe mysterious powder
A Swedish police car. File photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

The mysterious white powder was discovered on Wednesday morning by a journalist for SVT News Blekinge in southern Sweden.

“Our morning reporter called early this morning to say that she had found an envelope in the mail box. When she opened it it was found to contain a white powder and we phoned the police,” the editor of SVT News Blekinge Martin Hult told the TT newswire.

Police set up road blocks around the offices and the national bomb squad was alerted. But after the powder was found not to be harmful officers were able to lift the cordons in the afternoon.

Forensic teams are still examining the substance to establish its exact nature, a police control room officer told The Local on Wednesday afternoon.

“The powder is considered to be harmless, but we'll have to wait and see if it is normal potato flour or if it is narcotics,” he said.

The member of staff who opened the envelope was isolated in the newsroom while she awaited news of the nature of the powder while Hult was being questioned in another room.

She was transferred to the fire and rescue services' decontamination station for closer examination in the afternoon.

The editorial team has this week received threats following the network’s coverage of a summer party organized by the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Åkesson, to which he controversially invited the Swedish rock band Ultima Thule, which has been described as a white power band.

“The phone calls and threats have come to be associated with the publications about Jimmie Åkesson and Ultima Thule,” editor Lotta Orstadius told TT.

Orstadius said SVT were taking the threat seriously. 

“We are serious about this kind of thing when it happens and it is always serious when the editorial (team) is threatened,” she said. “It is a threat to democracy and journalism that we receive threats in this way. The worst that could happen is that we are silent which we will not do.”

It is as yet unclear if the threats are related to the sending of the white powder, but the police control room officer told The Local that an investigation had been launched.

“We have received a report and are investigating a potential threat against the SVT editorial office where we are examining more information from SVT concerning this letter and other threats,” he said.

POLITICS

Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

Sweden's Christian Democrats have called for tougher sentences for sex offenders and making release conditional on chemical castration.

Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

The Swedish Christian Democrats (KD) leader has called for the chemical castration of certain sex offenders as part of plans for a tougher grip on sexual crime and punishment in Sweden.

Speaking to the Swedish parliament on July 1st, KD party leader Ebba Busch said, “Every day, 27 rapes are reported. How many days must pass before the government takes action?”

“Today we propose that rapists and people who commit sexual crimes against children should be able to be chemically castrated.”

The controversial chemical castration proposal was the headline grabbing soundbite in a broader set of proposals to recalibrate the structure of Sweden’s sexual crime sentencing.

Among KD’s proposed sentencing changes is a life sentence for the aggravated rape of a child, the removal of automatic conditional release for sex offenders, and an increase in the sentence for aggravated rape up to a maximum of 25 years.

In addition, they want a “monitoring period” for convicts who have been released, equivalent to one third of the sentence served.

They also want to establish a national knowledge centre for sexual violence where people who feel that they have “problematic sexuality” can receive support. The center must also “be able to administer chemical castration on a voluntary basis to those who are concerned about unwanted sexual thoughts and impulses and have a compulsive sexuality”.

READ ALSO: What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Chemical castration, she suggested, should be implemented as a condition of release for some sexual offenders. “It may mean that if a person like Nytorgsmannen is to be able to become a free man, a chemical castration must have taken place before the release,” Busch said, referring to Andreas Holm, a man sentenced in 2021 for 35 different crimes including 24 rapes.

But this is not the first time the Christian Democrats have toyed with the idea of chemical castration as a form of legal punishment. As far back as 20 years ago, under former leader Alf Svensson, the right-wing party raised the idea of conditional chemical castration of rapists and pedophiles.

At the time the proposal was rejected by all other parties.

Chemical castration, the process of preventing sex hormone production through chemicals, can reduce sexual libido but the effects on those with deviant behaviours are relatively unknown.

Chemical castration can also prove costly as it is not a one-off treatment but rather requires regular interventions, which means the police would be reliant on those sentences to chemical castration making regular trips to the authorities for further treatment.

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