Sweden drops inquiry into police killing that sparked riots

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 07, 2013 11:38 AM

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A state prosecutor on Wednesday dropped an inquiry into a police shooting of a 69-year-old man in a mainly immigrant suburb of Stockholm that sparked Sweden's worst riots in years, saying that the officer acted in self defence.

The May killing in Husby of the knife-wielding man, who prosecutors said was shot after officers stormed his apartment because they feared he was threatening his wife, led to groups of youths rioting across the capital suburbs for nearly a week.

Gangs of youths attacked police stations, torched schools and burned hundreds of cars, leading to dozens of arrests.

"The investigation is discontinued because there is no longer reason to assume a crime has been committed. The fatal shot was fired in self defence," State Prosecutor Eva Finne said in a statement from the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

The riots highlighted a growing divide in the Nordic state, known for its extensive social welfare. The well-off majority of Swedes contrasts with a minority - often young people with immigrant backgrounds - who are poorly educated, cannot find work and feel pushed to the edge of society.

Youth unemployment is especially high in neighbourhoods such as the ones where the riots took place, home to asylum seekers from Iraq to Somalia, Afghanistan and Latin America.

Rami al-Khamisi, co-founder of Megafonen, a group that works with communities in the suburbs, told Swedish radio he was frustrated but not surprised the inquiry was dropped.

"We from the start wanted an independent investigation led neither by police nor by prosecutors," he said. "It's hard to understand it would be self defence when police goes in and kills an old man."

About 15 percent of Sweden's population is foreign-born. While many are from neighbouring Nordic countries, others are drawn by the country's policy of welcoming asylum seekers from war-torn countries.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Raissa Kasolowsky)