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‘Traces’ found in cathedral as investigation into Sweden’s stolen crown jewels continues

The search for Sweden's stolen crown jewels -- and the thieves responsible -- is continuing as the crime gains international attention. But no suspect has yet been identified, police confirmed to The Local on Thursday afternoon.

'Traces' found in cathedral as investigation into Sweden's stolen crown jewels continues
The cathedral, which was closed off for the investigation. Photo: Pontus Stenberg / TT

Two unknown criminals stole 17th-century royal crowns from a cathedral in Strängnäs, one hour from Stockholm, where they were kept in a locked and alarmed display case. The suspects were seen fleeing from the scene on women's bicycles and then a motorboat on Tuesday.

Police searched the area, both by water and air, and worked through the night on Tuesday but so far the jewels have not been recovered.

“Nothing has changed since yesterday,” police spokesperson Stefan Dangardt told The Local on Thursday afternoon, one day after the theft was registered with Interpol in an effort to make the stolen goods impossible to sell.

“There are some media reports that we have found the stolen goods but I cannot confirm that,” Dangardt added. “We are continuing to work with the information that we have, and continuing the investigation.”


The stolen items. Photo: Polisen/Livrustkammaren

Several Swedish media reported that police have carried out house searches in an area north of Stockholm, but Dangardt could not confirm this. He said no arrests had been made and no evidence had been found.

However, he said forensics experts had made progress in their investigation of the crime scene, which was closed off on Wednesday. Dangdardt told The Local that the forensic team had found “traces” both in and outside the church, but said it was too early to say what kind of evidence these might be, or what exactly the traces were. 

The revelation follows an earlier report from Swedish daily Aftonbladet, which said it had received information that police had found traces of blood in the cathedral.

The crowns were made for the burial of Kind Charles IX and his wife Christina, and date back to the early 1600s. A royal orb was stolen along with them, and the gold jewels are decorated with silver and pearls.

It's not the first royal heist in the area around Lake Mälaren. In 2013, a crown and sceptre used in the funeral of Sweden's King Johan III were stolen from nearby Västerås. They subsequently turned up in two large rubbish bags at the side of a highway following a tip-off to police.

 

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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