Government shake-up: Here are Sweden’s two new ministers

Stefan Löfven announced two new government minister roles on Tuesday, after the minister for social security's sudden departure.

Government shake-up: Here are Sweden's two new ministers
Stefan Löfven (centre) announced that Lena Micko (left) and Ardalan Shekarabi would take up new roles in the government. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Social Democrat Ardalan Shekarabi has moved from his post as minister for public administration to become the new social security minister. 

“One of his primary tasks will be working hard for our country's pensioners,” said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at a press conference of Shekarabi's new role.

Former Minister for Social Security Annika Strandhäll announced she was leaving the post on Monday, following the death of her partner.

Shekarabi was born in Manchester in 1978 but grew up in Iran. His family fled to Sweden in 1989 where their asylum application was initially rejected. After living in hiding for a period of time they were eventually granted asylum on humanitarian grounds in 1991.

And Lena Micko, previously head of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), will replace Shekarabi as minister for public administration. Micko was born in Umeå but has lived long-term in Linköping, where she has also held the post of deputy mayor.

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Swedish terror attacker sentenced to forced psychiatric care

A court has sentenced the far-right extremist Theodor Engström to forced psychiatric care for the knife attack he carried out at the Almedalen political festival this summer.

Swedish terror attacker sentenced to forced psychiatric care

The Gotland district court found the 33-year-old Engström guilty of murdering the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren, but did not agree that the murder counted as a terror attack.

It did find him guilty, however, of “planning a terror attack”, for his preparations to murder the Centre Party’s leader, Annie Lööf. 

“The murdered woman had a significant role [in society], a murder is always serious, and this had consequences both for Almedalen Week and for society more broadly,” the judge Per Sundberg, said at a press conference. 

The judge Per Sundberg announces the sentence on Theodor Engström on December 6th. Photo: Karl Melander/TT

But he said that the court judged that Sweden’s terror legislation was too restrictively drafted for her murder to count as a terror offence. 

“Despite Ing-Marie Wieselgren’s well-attested position within psychiatry, the court considers that her position as national coordinator at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions is not such that her murder can in itself be considered to have damaged Sweden. The act cannot as a result be classified as a terrorist crime on those grounds.” 

The court ruled that Engström’s crimes deserved Sweden’s most severe sentence, a life sentence in prison, but found that due to his disturbed mental state he should instead receive “psychiatric care with a special test for release”. 

In its judgement, the court said that an examination by forensic psychiatrists had found both that there were “medical reasons” why Engström should be transferred into a closed psychiatric facility and that “his insight into the meaning of his actions and his ability to adjust his actions according to such insight were at the very least severely diminished”. 

It said that under Swedish law, a court could send someone to prison who was in need of psychiatric care only if there were “special reasons” to do so. 

“The court considers that it has not been shown that Theodor Engström’s need of psychiatric care is so limited that there is a special reason for a prison sentence,” it ruled. 

Lööf wrote on Instagram that the judgement was “a relief”. 

“For me personally, it was a relief when the judgement came,” she wrote. “Engström has also been judged guilty of ‘preparation for a terror attack through preparation for murder’. This means that the the court is taking the threat towards democracy and towards politicians as extremely serious.”

The fact that the court has decided that Engström’s care should have a “special test for release” means that he cannot be discharged from the closed psychiatric hospital or ward where he is treated without a court decision. 

The court must rule both that the mental disorder that led to the crime has abated to the extent that there is no risk of further crimes, and that he has no other mental disorders that might require compulsory psychiatric care. The care has to be reassessed every six months.