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CRIME

Swedish police uncover suspected paedophile ring

Four men have been remanded in custody after Swedish police raided a suspected paedophile ring on Thursday.

Swedish police uncover suspected paedophile ring
One of the suspects (right) along with his lawyer at a remand hearing in Stockholm. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Police detained eight men in connection with the suspected network, taking one in for questioning before releasing him and arresting seven. Three of the eight have been found guilty of or have been suspected of sexual offences against children in the past.

The four men the prosecution authority asked to have remanded on Friday are accused of child pornography offences on 'probable cause' (the higher degree of suspicion according to Swedish law). One of them is also accused of raping a child on probable cause.

A 53-year-old based in a suburb of Stockholm was the first to be remanded, on suspicion of raping a child, sexual exploitation of a minor, and child pornography offences. A different man, aged 58, was remanded suspected of child pornography offences, as were two further men.

The men are believed to have stored and shared illegal material. Police have been investigating the case since last autumn after they were tipped off about one of the men, who had previously been investigated for allegedly raping a child.

“Additional suspects were then identified as they made use of a telecommunications service which they called. There, they discussed extremely serious sexual offences and serious violent crimes against children,” prosecutor Reena Devgun, of the International Public Prosecution Office in Stockholm, said in a statement.

Police and prosecutors used stored telecommunications data to identify and map the suspects. According to newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), reconnaissance and wiretapping allowed them to map a large network of men aged between 50 and 70.

“This kind of crime is extremely difficult to detect, and accessing stored data has been crucial in the investigation. Police have put in a considerable amount of analytical work and invested large resources in the investigation,” Devgun explained.

One of the accused has previously been sentenced for sex crimes against boys. He was discharged from psychiatric care in 2015.

Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reports that in their phone conversations the men discussed acquiring a soundproofed facility where they could keep children captive. They allegedly discussed plans to take a refugee child, because they believed the attention given to such a disappearance would not be as significant.

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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