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CRIME

Homeless Romanian killed in Swedish park remembered as ‘grateful and kind’

The homeless migrant who was beat to death earlier this month has been identified as a 48-year-old man from Romania known as ‘Gica’.

Homeless Romanian killed in Swedish park remembered as ‘grateful and kind’
The Huskvarna park that 'Gica' called home. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
Friends of Gica, whose real name was Gheorge Hortolomei-Lupu, are speaking out after a teenage boy was arrested on Monday in connection with his death. 
 
Iréne Linddahl, who works for local aid group Kyrkhjälpen, said she first met Gica four years ago when he came to a party hosted by her group in Huskvarna. He became regularly involved with Kyrkhjälpen’s efforts to help other homeless EU migrants in Sweden. 
 
“He was friendly, grateful and kind,” Linddahl told Aftonbladet. “He lived outdoors and primarily devoted himself to begging.” 
 
Gica’s body was discovered in a Huskvarna park earlier this month but it took police a week to determine that a murder had occurred. The police investigation then led to the teenager who was arrested on Monday. Police have also questioned two other boys in connection with the crime. Both are under the age of 15 and one is as young as 13 according to P4 Jönköping. One of the boys is suspected of assaulting the migrant on the same day as the alleged murder while the other is suspected of harassing the victim. 
 
 
Videos of the teenagers beating and harassing the 48-year-old were reportedly circulated on social media. 
 
Mikael Good, a volunteer who helped the homeless and other down-on-their-luck people in Huskvarna, also fondly remembered Gica and said he couldn’t think of any reason anyone would want to hurt him. 
 
“I was completely destroyed [by the news]. I cannot understand why anyone would do this to a weak person who couldn’t defend himself,” Good told Aftonbladet. 
 
Both Good and Linddahl said that Gica’s health had taken a serious turn in recent months and that he had lost a great deal of weight and had difficulty getting around. 
 
According to Linddahl, Gica came to Sweden roughly four years ago from a town near Bacau in Romania. He reportedly lost his job at a printing company and got divorced shortly thereafter. This upending of his life led him to leave Romania. He spent time in several other EU countries before settling in Sweden. 
 
“He probably thought people were nice here and that he had found a beautiful spot overlooking the lake and the mountains,” Good said. 
 
He worked in the Huskvarna area as a fruit picker for awhile before becoming a bottle collector and full-time beggar. 
 
Kyrkhjälpen held a memorial for Gica that was attended by roughly 50 people, including a number of other Romanians and local Huskvarna residents.
 
The investigation of the teenagers suspected of being involved in Gica’s death is ongoing. 

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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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