News Trending

The surge in gang-related violence, including shootings and bombings, once confined to Sweden’s major cities, has now spilled into quieter suburbs and towns, challenging the nation’s reputation for safety. Upplands-Bro, a community north of Stockholm, has witnessed a series of incidents, including the tragic death of a 14-year-old boy in August and multiple shootings and bombings since January.

The shift in violence from impoverished urban areas is attributed, in part, to gangs targeting the relatives of their rivals. Law enforcement suspects that some of the recent violence is coordinated by criminal leaders based in other countries, such as Turkey and Serbia. The toll has been significant, with nearly 50 fatalities and over 140 explosions in 2023 alone, surpassing the previous year’s record of over 60 deaths from gun violence.

Gangs have evolved beyond street-level criminal activities, forming connections with higher-level criminals. Innocent bystanders, including a 70-year-old man and a 24-year-old teacher, have fallen victim to the violence. Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson acknowledged the severity of the situation in a rare national address, promising stricter penalties for deadly violence.

Children as young as 13 or 14 are being recruited into gangs through promises of money and designer clothes on social media. Concerned individuals are taking action, organizing street patrols in affected areas. Community engagement, like night walks and support for families affected by violence, is seen as a way to enhance safety.

In areas like Jarva, where unemployment rates are high, individuals like Libaane Warsame have taken it upon themselves to patrol the streets after losing a family member to gun violence. Despite a lack of fatal shootings this year, residents remain on edge.

The rise in gang violence has prompted the government to reevaluate immigration policies. The right-wing coalition government, elected in 2022, believes that the increase in violence is linked to past immigration policies. Steps include making it harder for immigrants outside the EU to receive social benefits and introducing compulsory preschool to improve Swedish-language skills in certain areas. Legislation against recruiting children for criminal activities has been enacted, and plans for stop-and-search zones and increased prison sentences for offenses, such as gun crimes and explosions, are in progress.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

In a recent case in Uppsala, Sweden, four teenage brothers and a 15-year-old girl have been sentenced by the court for the murder of a taxi driver. The victim had been reported for rape by the girl, and the court found that he was lured to a nature reserve with the promise of sexual favors due to the earlier allegations. The taxi driver was overpowered, and his body was discovered a week later, hanging from a tree in what appeared to be a staged suicide.

The eldest brother, who was 18 at the time, received a life sentence, while the four younger individuals, who were minors during the events, were sentenced to three to four years in a young offenders’ institution. The three older brothers were convicted of murder, while the girl and her boyfriend, both 15 at the time, were found not to be at the scene but were convicted of aiding and abetting the murder.

Despite the teenagers denying their involvement, the court relied on circumstantial evidence presented by prosecutors. Messages exchanged between them were used as evidence of a murder plot. Four days before the victim disappeared, the girl messaged a friend about her rapist, stating, “His brothers are going to meet my rapist.” Subsequent messages discussed the timing of the murder, with one brother suggesting, “We should do Friday,” and another agreeing.

After the killing, one of the brothers used the victim’s phone to transfer money from his bank account. The girl claimed she was unaware of the brothers’ intention to kill the man, stating she thought they would only beat him up. However, the court, led by Lars Holmgard, the president of the Uppsala District Court, ruled that the brothers had planned the murder, evident from the time they purchased the rope used in the crime. Holmgard stated, “The plan must have been for [the victim] to be hanged from the rope, in our opinion.”

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

In Stockholm, a Russian-born Swedish man, Sergei Skvortsov, has been cleared by a court of charges relating to alleged unlawful intelligence activities against the US and Sweden. The 60-year-old, who operated import-export businesses, was accused of transmitting Western technology to Russia’s military intelligence service over a nine-year period from 2013 to 2022. Throughout the trial, Skvortsov has maintained his innocence.

His defense lawyer, Ulrika Borg, expressed his relief at the verdict, although prosecutors still have three weeks to appeal. The prosecution, led by Henrik Olin, contended that Skvortsov functioned as a “procurement agent,” facilitating the supply of electronics to Russia’s military and its GRU military intelligence service. Olin sought a five-year prison term for Skvortsov, characterizing him as a serious threat to US and Swedish security.

Skvortsov and his wife were arrested in a dramatic dawn raid conducted by special forces in November 2022. However, his wife was subsequently released without charge. The trial largely took place behind closed doors, and testimony was provided by an FBI official.

Although the judge acknowledged that Skvortsov had engaged in many of the activities outlined by the prosecution, he emphasized that there was no evidence to suggest that Skvortsov’s actions were intended for espionage purposes. Consequently, the court ruled in favor of Skvortsov’s acquittal.

The case occurred amidst a backdrop of heightened tensions in Sweden concerning espionage, with the country applying for membership in NATO in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. In a separate incident, a couple in their mid-50s was arrested on suspicion of handling classified information, with the wife having a background in intelligence work for Sweden’s military. Her husband, a former high-ranking military officer, has denied the allegations.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

Sweden’s Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, has taken unprecedented steps to address a concerning surge in gang-related violence by summoning the head of the armed forces, Micael Byden, for assistance. The two leaders, along with the country’s police chief, are set to meet to discuss the potential role of the military in combating the escalating issue.

In a rare televised address, Prime Minister Kristersson expressed his determination to tackle the gang problem head-on, stating, “We will hunt the gangs down, and we will defeat them.” The move to involve the military comes in the wake of a particularly bloody 12-hour period, during which two men were shot dead in Stockholm, and a 25-year-old woman lost her life in an explosion in a town north of the capital.

While the exact nature of the military’s involvement remains uncertain, previous discussions have suggested that soldiers might take over certain policing duties to free up resources for law enforcement agencies to focus on crime-fighting. Critics, however, argue that these measures address the symptoms rather than the root causes of the violence.

Over the course of this month, Sweden has witnessed 12 fatalities in gang-related violence, the highest number since December 2019. The recent surge is believed to be linked to conflicts within a gang known as the Foxtrot network, which has splintered into rival factions due to infighting.

Prime Minister Kristersson emphasized the severity of the situation, noting that “no other country in Europe” is currently facing a similar crisis. He expressed concern that violence is increasingly ensnaring children and innocent bystanders across the country.

Efforts to address gang violence have included more surveillance, stricter penalties for gun law violations, enhanced deportation powers, and the establishment of stop-and-search zones. The prime minister’s government has sought inspiration from New York City’s strategies, yet some community organizers argue that these measures fall short of addressing the underlying social issues. They advocate for more action on child poverty and increased resources for youth clubs, community services, and sports centers to address the grief and pain experienced by those affected by the violence.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Sports Trending

The majority of Spain’s national football team members have agreed to end their boycott, as confirmed by the Secretary of State for Sports, Victor Francos. This decision was reached after over seven hours of discussions that concluded at 05:00 local time on Wednesday.

Francos stated that the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has committed to implementing immediate and significant reforms. Out of the 23 players initially selected for this month’s Nations League matches, two, Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro, have chosen to leave the squad.

The boycott began when the former RFEF president, Luis Rubiales, kissed forward Jenni Hermoso without her consent following Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory over England on August 20. This incident led to Rubiales’ resignation and the dismissal of Spain’s manager, Jorge Vilda.

The Spanish team is scheduled to play against Sweden and Switzerland in their upcoming matches. Francos expressed relief that the team would participate with assurances.

He mentioned that the decision was the result of “amicable” discussions in Valencia involving players, RFEF officials, the CSD (Spanish government’s national sports agency), and the women’s players’ union Futpro. A joint commission will be established to oversee the agreed-upon changes, with the signing set to take place soon.

Leon and Guijarro will not face penalties for their decision to leave, which Francos described as “fully respectable.” They had previously boycotted the national team along with 15 other players before the World Cup, citing issues with Coach Vilda. They did not participate in this year’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

Regarding the situation, Leon stated, “We already knew this was not the right way to return, and we are not in the right state,” and Guijarro added, “It’s quite difficult and quite hard. Mentally we are not right to be here.”

The new head coach, Montse Tome, included 15 players from the World Cup squad in her selection for the Nations League games, but the players reaffirmed their boycott in a statement, expressing their reluctance to participate and exploring potential legal implications.

Tome excluded Hermoso from the squad “to protect her,” but Hermoso argued that this decision indicated that “nothing has changed” at the RFEF.

The CSD announced the establishment of a commission to oversee the agreed-upon changes, focusing on equality policies, equal pay advancements, and improvements to women’s sports infrastructure.

Furthermore, the RFEF confirmed plans to merge the men’s and women’s Spanish national teams under a single logo and branding known as “Seleccion Espanola de Futbol” (Spanish national team). This move aims to promote equality in football.

Amanda Gutierrez, the president of Futpro, stated that most players had chosen to stay in the interest of the agreement, calling it the beginning of a long journey.

The Spain players arrived at their training camp in Valencia on Tuesday. When asked about her feelings regarding the situation, midfielder Alexia Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner, responded, “Well, bad.”

Rubiales has been ordered to stay at least 200 meters away from Hermoso after she filed a legal complaint against him. In his first court appearance, Rubiales denied the allegations of sexual assault.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

In response to a series of Quran burnings that sparked outrage in Muslim countries, the Danish government has introduced a proposal to prohibit the public burning of religious texts, including the Quran. Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard emphasized that such acts not only harmed Denmark’s reputation but also posed a risk to its citizens’ safety. The new legislation aims to classify improper treatment of the Quran or Bible as a criminal offense, carrying penalties of fines and potential imprisonment for up to two years.

The Danish government, which holds a center-right stance, aims to convey a message to the international community through this move. Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen highlighted that recent weeks have witnessed around 170 demonstrations, some involving the burning of Quran copies near foreign embassies. Denmark’s intelligence agency, PET, has cautioned that these incidents have escalated the terrorist threat.

Denmark’s neighboring country, Sweden, has also experienced similar Quran burnings, leading to concerns about worsening security. However, both Denmark and Sweden had been cautious in their response due to their strong tradition of freedom of expression. Sweden abolished its blasphemy laws in the 1970s.

Denmark’s decision to address this issue gained momentum after further Quran burnings occurred in both countries in July. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) urged its member nations to take appropriate action against countries where such desecration occurred.

The Danish justice minister clarified that the proposed change in the law wasn’t directed at verbal, written, or satirical expressions. Rather, the focus was on curbing actions that only fueled division and hatred. Deputy Prime Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen stressed the importance of responsible behavior even while exercising freedom of expression.

Denmark acknowledged that it couldn’t ignore the negative implications of these actions on its security. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, noted that his country wouldn’t follow Denmark’s approach, citing the need for potential constitutional amendments.

The Danish government plans to present the proposed legal changes on September 1st, with the aim of passing them in parliament by year-end. The prohibition is expected to be included within a section of the criminal code that addresses public insults toward foreign states, flags, or symbols.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Sports Trending

Spain secured their place in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals for the first time with a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands, thanks to a late goal from teenage winger Salma Paralluelo. Mariona Caldentey initially put Spain ahead with an 80th-minute penalty, capitalizing on a handball by Stefanie van der Gragt. However, Van der Gragt redeemed herself by scoring a stoppage-time equalizer. The game headed into extra time, where Paralluelo found the net, securing Spain’s first major semi-final in 26 years.

Despite the Netherlands’ status as runners-up in the 2019 tournament, they were outplayed for much of the match, and Paralluelo’s goal sealed Spain’s victory. Spain will face the winner of the Japan vs. Sweden match in the semi-finals. The match was marked by VAR interventions, including disallowed goals and penalty decisions. Paralluelo’s heroics ultimately stole the spotlight, making her the youngest Spanish scorer in a Women’s World Cup and a rising star in the tournament.

Van der Gragt, who is retiring after the tournament, experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, first conceding a penalty and then scoring an equalizer. The Netherlands, missing Danielle van de Donk due to suspension, struggled to find their rhythm and were largely reliant on their goalkeeper. Despite their manager Jonker’s pride in the team’s progress, their journey in this major tournament came to an end with this defeat.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

During the NATO summit, the G7 nations are expected to approve a long-term security agreement with Ukraine. The agreement will encompass provisions for defense equipment, training, and intelligence sharing.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasized that this agreement would send a strong message to Russian President Putin. The move comes after Ukrainian President Zelensky criticized NATO for not providing a timeline for Ukraine’s accession to the alliance. Sunak stated that the allies of Kyiv are reinforcing their formal arrangements to ensure long-term protection for Ukraine and prevent a repetition of the brutality it has faced from Russia.

The United Kingdom has played a leading role in this agreement, which involves G7 partners such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. The details of the agreement are expected to be revealed during the summit.

US President Joe Biden has previously suggested a model similar to the US-Israel agreement, which entails providing Ukraine with $3.8 billion in military aid annually for ten years, but without an obligation to come to Ukraine’s aid during an attack. While NATO stated that Ukraine could join the alliance when conditions are met, Zelensky expressed frustration over the lack of a specific timeframe. Despite the absence of a timeline, diplomats pointed out that a clear path to membership has been established, with the application process shortened significantly.

The focus now shifts to the long-term security guarantees that NATO members will offer Ukraine as an alternative to immediate membership. The summit also saw the announcement of military packages for Ukraine, including the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets, and the UK’s commitment to deliver combat and logistics vehicles to Ukraine.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given his support to Sweden’s bid to join NATO, according to the alliance’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan has agreed to forward Sweden’s application to the Turkish parliament for ratification, ending months of Turkish opposition.

The decision comes after Sweden addressed Turkey’s security concerns by amending its constitution, changing laws, intensifying counter-terrorism efforts against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), and resuming arms exports to Turkey. The announcement was made following discussions between Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The NATO chief hailed the agreement as a “historic step” but couldn’t provide a specific timeline for Sweden’s accession as it depended on the Turkish parliament. The United States and other NATO members have welcomed Turkey’s support and expressed readiness to work with both Turkey and Sweden to enhance defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

In Sweden, a Kurdish man has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for various crimes, including an attempt to finance terrorism. This is the first instance where Sweden’s updated anti-terrorism laws have been utilized in a case involving the Kurdish militant group PKK. Turkey has long urged Sweden to take action against Kurdish separatists. Sweden’s aspirations to join NATO have been delayed, primarily due to Turkey’s demand for the extradition of individuals it considers terrorists.

Ahead of a NATO summit, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lithuania. Sweden is hopeful for NATO membership and has received support from President Joe Biden. The timing of the court case was emphasized by commentators, who noted that it conveyed a message to Ankara that Sweden was cracking down on the PKK.

The convicted Kurdish man, who has Turkish origins, will be deported after serving his sentence. The judge highlighted that Sweden’s NATO bid did not influence the court’s decision. Last month, Sweden strengthened its anti-terrorism laws to criminalize arranging meetings to provide financial or other assistance to banned groups. Critics raised concerns about potential impacts on freedom of speech.

The sentencing coincided with a significant meeting in Brussels involving the foreign ministers of Sweden, Turkey, and Finland, ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius. Finland’s Foreign Minister expressed hopes for a swift announcement regarding Sweden’s NATO membership. Turkey’s President has voiced reservations about Sweden’s bid, emphasizing the need for further action.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright