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Man jailed for luring homeless Romanians to Sweden to beg

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Man jailed for luring homeless Romanians to Sweden to beg
A beggar holds out a can to collect money. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT
15:37 CEST+02:00
A 34-year-old man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for luring two homeless men to Sweden from Romania and then forcing them to beg for money for up to 12 hours a day.
Elisabeth Hägglund Nortén, the judge in the appeals court for Skåne and Blekinge wrote in her verdict that the court had established that the man "through threats of violence had seized all the proceeds which the plaintiffs managed to collect". 
 
He had, she added, "exploited their vulnerable situation through making his 'offer' to those who in practice had no alternative way of supporting themselves". 
 
The man was found innocent by Malmö District Court last year, with the judges saying they found it hard to believe that the two beggars had not dared either to challenge the man or to flee. 
 
But Hägglund Nortén argued that the court had underestimated how vulnerable to the two men were. 
 
"They found themselves in a foreign land with no economic possibility to travel back, without knowing the language or having any other knowledge of where they could get help," she said. 
 
"They were completely dependent on [the man], who controlled the the plaintiffs through threatening and repressing them in such a way that in practice they were prevented from making a free decision." 
 
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According to the court, the man had approached the two men when they were sleeping in a train station in a city in Romania. He had then bought them food and beer, before offering to take them to Sweden where he said they could make a good living begging. 
 
The two men agreed, and were then driven to Malmö in a van. 
 
On arrival the man showed them a homeless shelter where they could sleep, and took them to Crossroads, a support centre run the Stadsmissionen charity, where he said they could get a meal every morning. He then showed them shops outside which they could beg. 
 
Every evening, they told the court, the man came and demanded that they give them all the money they had collected, normally about 300 kronor ($32). If they failed to do this, he threatened to beat and even kill them, together with his relatives. 
 
The case came to the police's attention when an argument broke out between the three men at Crossroads over how long they should beg.
 
Staff working at the centre overheard the discussion and tipped off the police, who arrested the man. 
 

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