Revellers on board Silja Galaxy for one of Fun Cruise's student parties. None of these people were involved in the alleged rape. Photo: Fun Cruises
The men, both aged 19, were arrested after the M/S Galaxy docked in Stockholm on Wednesday, accused of gang raping a girl during a drunken booze cruise across the Baltic.
A third man, aged 18, was released after the court ruled there was insufficient evidence to keep him behind bars.
Martin Beskow, defence lawyer for one of the 19-year-old men, told Aftonbladet that his client was disappointed that he had not been given a chance to give his side of the story.
“This was upsetting for my client. The court thought that there was reasonable grounds for suspicion. I did not,” he said.
Åke Broné, who was defending the released 18-year-old, told the newspaper that his client denied having sex with anyone during the cruise, forced or otherwise.
“He went back and forth to his cabin, but he didn't have any sex. Instead my client was just hanging around with other mates,” he said.
Around 1,700 students were on the Fun Cruises party boat from Stockholm to the Finnish town of Turku, with police accompanying them on the Silja Line' ferry to maintain control.
Sweden-Finland ferry crossings are notorious for heavy drinking, as all passengers over the age of 18 are able to buy duty free alcohol, meaning a huge discount for Finnish and Swedish travellers used to some of the highest food and drink taxes in Europe.
Four men were arrested after the ferry docked on Wednesday and a fifth on Thursday, but two were released on Friday evening after the police judged there were no longer any grounds for suspicion.
Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper, which by chance interviewed two of the men as they departed on the cruise, reported last week that one had a previous conviction, while two were already under investigation for allegedly aiding and abetting a murder in Stockholm.
The rape case has been seized upon by Sweden’s fast-growing right-wing media as evidence of the dangers of immigration, with the Fria Tider newspaper reporting that the 19-year-old man interviewed by Aftonbladet was “a non-European immigrant”, while his companion was “an immigrant who is not a Swedish citizen”.
“We’re going to fuck around,” one of the men told Sara Cosar, an Aftonbladet reporter before the ship departed. “We’re graduating, so we just want to fuck around.”
Cosar, who was on the cruise, said that there had been “a great atmosphere” on board, as students let their hair down.
Fun Cruises, which organised the event, billed it as “a crazy action packed day at sea” on a “ship filled with students from all over the country”.