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Hostage-takers release guards after pizza negotiations at Swedish prison

Two Swedish prison guards were released after two inmates held them hostage for nine hours, demanding pizza as ransom.

Hostage-takers release guards after pizza negotiations at Swedish prison
A police task force outside the Hällby prison near Eskilstuna in central Sweden during the hostage drama. Photo: Per Karlsson/TT

Neither guard “was hurt and were able to return safely to their family,” prison spokeswoman Stina Lyles told AFP.

The inmates, both doing time for murder at the Hällby high security prison near the town of Eskilstuna, managed to force themselves into an area reserved only for guards at about 12.30pm, said another prison official, Torkel Omnell.

There, they took two guards hostage who were in the area at the time.

“We quickly sent in a mediator” and called the police, Omnell said.

According to Swedish media reports, the hostage-takers made two demands – a helicopter to escape and 20 pizzas for the other inmates.

“Yes, the pizzas were delivered,” jail spokeswoman Lyles said.

Swedish media reported that one guard was exchanged for the pizzas at around 7pm, and the other was released two and a half hours later.

The two inmates were taken to the police station for questioning for “kidnapping”, police said.

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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