17 charged over neo-Nazi violence in Gothenburg

Seventeen men linked to neo-Nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) have been charged with agitation against an ethnic group and violent riot for their actions during a demonstration last year.

17 charged over neo-Nazi violence in Gothenburg
Prosecutor Jonas Martinsson holds a press conference after the verdict. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall / TT

Nine of the men have been prosecuted for violent riot and are accused of using shields to push journalists against a police vehicle and to hit police officers, while all but one were charged with agitation against an ethnic group. The demonstrators are also accused of throwing objects at police officers.

All of those involved have denied the crimes.

The protest in September last year in Gothenburg led to hours of unrest. Several hundred NMR supporters began the march along the route for which authorities had issued permission, but several protesters tried to break out of the designated area near the Svenska Mässan conference centre, which was hosting its annual Book Fair the same day.

WATCH: Elderly shopper totally undeterred by neo-Nazi march

A 29-year-old acted as ringleader of the violence by the group, according to district prosecutor Jonas Martinsson.

“Of course it is serious when you attack the police during a demonstration,” he said. 

The charges of agitation against an ethnic group related to alleged messages spread by protesters about race, skin colour and origin.

Several of the NMR demonstrators carried posters labelling well-known Swedes, many of them of Jewish descent, as criminals. One of the men held a speech saying those featured on the posters were guilty of treason due to “mass immigration”.

According to the prosecutors, the demonstrators gave a “military impression” by wearing helmets and uniform-like clothes featuring the symbol of the NMR movement, as well as carrying shields.

“It is associated with the national socialism of the '30s and '40s, in my opinion,” said Martinsson.

During the press conference outlining the charges, police assistant Stefan Claesson said that the investigation of the suspected crimes had included looking through “an emormous [range of] material” including films.

Much of the evidence came from body cameras worn by police during the event, and both police officers and journalists will also testify as witnesses in court.

The prosecutor did not state the penalty he would be asking for, and it has not yet been decided when the trial will be held.

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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.