Police in Sweden accused of hushing up asylum seeker assaults at festival

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From the Telegraph

Police in Sweden have been accused of hushing up a series of sexual assaults by asylum seekers at Europe’s largest teen pop festival, with one senior officer saying police wanted to avoid “playing into the hands” of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat party. 

According to Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper, from the very first day of We are Sthlm, a free festival held last August for 13-19 year olds, police were aware of gangs of young Afghan men surrounding and sexually harassing girls. The 2014 event had seen a similar wave of assaults, the paper said.

In an internal police memo seen by the newspaper, officers identified a group of approximately 50 men, “so-called refugee youths, predominantly from Afghanistan,” whom they suspected of being behind the attacks, adding that “several of the gang were arrested for sexual harassment”. 

Despite a record number of girls reporting crimes, police made no mention of the phenomenon in the report on the festival posted to their website, which said instead only that there had been “relatively few crimes and few arrests given the number of attendants”. 

Sweden’s Prime Minister on Monday called for an immediate inquiry into why no crimes were prosecuted and whether police hushed up the assaults.  On Monday afternoon, Dan Eliasson, Sweden’s national police commissioner, agreed that the offences were “completely unacceptable” and launched an “immediate internal investigation into any wrongdoing or crimes . . . I will be extremely displeased if we held back on any information for political reasons,” he said. 

Peter Agren, who commanded the police operation at the 2014 event, suggested to DN that the police wanted to avoid inflaming public opinion against refugees. “This is a sore point. We sometimes don’t say it like it is because we think that’ll play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats,” he said.

DN interviewed a 15-year-old who had been harassed at the festival. “Especially during the concerts, it was very terrible,” she told the newspaper. “As soon as you entered the crowd they started to grope you. They surrounded one of my friends, and when she fell down, one of them threw himself over her straight away. They did not care if you said ‘no’, or had a boyfriend.”

Roger Ticoalu, who manages the event for Stockholm’s city government, said that the problem of sexual harassment had increased suddenly in 2014. “There are groups of guys who intentionally target, surround and harass young girls,” he said. “We were at first completely shocked by their approach. When we got the first hints as to what was happening, we didn’t think it could possibly be true.”

According to DN’s investigation, a large number of sexual assaults were reported at the festival in 2014, including a case classed as rape under Swedish law. 

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