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CRIME

Swedish politician: ‘I was raped at knifepoint’

Police are investigating after a Left Party politician said he was attacked and raped because of his political beliefs.

Swedish politician: 'I was raped at knifepoint'
File photo of a police car. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Patrik Liljeglöd, group leader of the Left Party in Falun in central Sweden, told his story at a council meeting and in a public post on social media on Thursday evening. He said that at the end of July he was walking home one evening when an unknown man approached him and threatened him with a knife.

“I was brutally treated and also raped at knife point because I was a female Left genitalia, that people like us like this and finally that I was a traitor,” Liljeglöd paraphrased some of the attacker's words.

“The few words and sentences expressed by the man had a clear connection to me as politically active and therefore it affects us all. Standing here telling you what happened to me is not something I enjoy doing, I would rather bury this incident so deep down in the bedrock that nobody else other than me would ever know.”

“Nor do I seek your compassion or empathy, but I'm standing here because in my deeply rooted conviction that democracy should be an inviolable part of our society, I feel that I have to,” he wrote on Facebook.

No one has been arrested, but police have been investigating the incident since the summer.

“We have examined the crime scene and sent the results to the National Forensic Centre, but we are still waiting for their analysis,” police spokesperson Stefan Dangardt told the TT news agency.

“If it turns out that the motive is his political allegiance then it is obviously a hate crime.”

READ ALSO: How is Sweden tackling threats against politicians and journalists?

The Local last month investigated threats against politicians in Sweden, after a number of elected representatives announced they had stood down or were standing down as a result of these threats.

But Liljeglöd vowed on Thursday that he would not quit, writing: “Nothing is more important than democracy, people die for the right to democracy every day and the right we have inherited through our parents' fight we have to continue fighting for. And we have to remind those citizens who have forgotten why.”

Almost three out of ten elected officials (28 percent) told Sweden's National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) in the election year of 2014 that they had faced harassment, threats or violence that year, compared to 20 percent in 2012. This does not necessarily indicate an overall increase, as such incidents tend to peak during election years, but there's only a year to go to Sweden's next election.

Sweden's Culture and Democracy Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke told The Local in an interview last month that she had urged police to prioritize crimes against free speech as part of a new government action plan designed to combat threats against specifically politicians, journalists and artists.

“Journalists, artists and elected representatives work on the basis of those freedoms and opportunities that free speech offers. So when they are threatened, free speech is also threatened,” she said at the time.

READ ALSO: Sweden's rape statistics explained

CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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