Swedish police accused of sex crimes 'cover up'

The We are Sthlm festival. Photo: Alexander Tillheden/We are Sthlm

Swedish police accused of sex crimes 'cover up'

Stockholm police have been accused of withholding information about a string of sex assaults at Europe's largest youth festival.

Police were aware that a large group of young men groped a string of teenage girls at the We Are Sthm music festival in Stockholm in both 2014 and 2015, while publically describing the atmosphere as being calm, Swedish media are reporting.

The Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper says it has seen a memo from last summer, warning police ahead of the event that there was a known "problem with young men who rub themselves against young girls" at the festival.

According to DN's sources, the alleged attackers were mostly believed to be refugees who had come to Sweden without their parents.

Officers had, however, avoided informing the public that they had made this connection, the sources claimed.

Teenagers who said they had been touched inappropriately at the festival described their experiences to the paper, with one describing the events as "terrible".

"As soon as you came out in the crowd they began to grope," said one 15-year-old girl.

The free festival is put on every year for 12 to 17-year-olds and is held in various locations in the city centre, including Kungsträdgården, a large park close to Stockholm's Royal Palace. The programme in 2015 included a number of international dance companies and circuses alongside Swedish artists including Zara Larsson, who headlined the event.

Police earlier said that there had been "relatively few crimes and people taken into custody considering the number of participants" in the festival, however on Monday they admitted that the full picture had not been given.

"We should certainly have written and told people about this, no doubt. Why it did not happen I do not know," Varg Gyllander, a press spokesperson, told DN.

He said that police would reinvestigate exactly what happened and why the general public was not fully informed at the time.

Sweden's National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson later tweeted that he would look into the apparent media blackout.

It is rare for information about alleged criminals' identities or ethnic backgrounds to be revealed during police investigations in Sweden or reported by the Swedish media.

However DN's report on the alleged cover-up by police comes amid allegations that a psychologist also tipped off the newspaper about groping claims at the festival last summer and that Dagens Nyheter had chosen not to follow up the story at the at time.

A DN journalist contacted by news site nyheteridag admitted on Monday that she had contacted the police after speaking to the psychologist but said the story was never published because she did not get a response. However the source told the site that the reporter had suggested that her editor was not interested in the story either because it may have been fabricated by supporters of the nationalist Sweden Democrat party or because it could whip up racist sentiment in the city.

The controversy over the Swedish festival comes amid a global debate about when connections to race should be made publically by police, following 121 sexual assaults in the German city of Cologne on New Year's Eve. Police chiefs were accused of attempting to hide asylum seekers' involvement in the reported crimes.
Swedish police accused of sex crimes 'cover up' Swedish police accused of sex crimes 'cover up' Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 4:30 PM Rating: 5

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