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Swedish report Swedish report
by Euro Reporter
2011-07-05 09:38:03
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Swedish arms investigators seek SA’s help

The Swedish prosecutorial authority wants the help of its South African counterparts in investigating alleged corruption arising out of the notorious arms procurement scandal. On Friday Gunnar Stetler, director of Sweden’s National Anti-Corruption Unit, dispatched a preparatory letter to the South Africans, enquiring whether investigations had been re-opened in South Africa in response to recent revelations in Sweden. The letter, which, in line with diplomatic protocols, has been lodged with Sweden’s Foreign Affairs ministry, to be sent on to the South African government, notes that details have come to light of what Stetler describes as an alleged “bribery scheme towards South Africa”. The Sunday Independent has seen a copy of the letter.

It asks whether in response to the new information, the South African judicial authorities have seen fit to open preliminary investigations.The letter has not yet been forwarded to the South African government. Speaking to The Sunday Independent on Friday, Stetler said this week’s letter was the first step towards securing co-operation from South African investigators in his inquiries. “If they have re-opened their investigation”, he said, “we will be in a position to share information and follow the trail of accounting.” Describing Stetler’s intervention as “a very positive development, DA shadow defence minister David Maynier said “the Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit’s investigation may be our last best hope of a real breakthrough on the arms deal”.

Meanwhile, the status of South African investigations remains unclear. On June 20, Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela confirmed that the unit noted the new round of disclosures in Sweden and were looking into the possibility of revisiting the issue. But no further word has been forthcoming. At the same time, The Sunday Independent has learned that in the fallout from the Swedish revelations, parliamentary watchdog the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has resolved to call Hawks chief Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat to explain his decision to call an end to investigations into alleged arms deal corruption. Scopa decided to demand, initially, a written clarification of the reasons behind the decision, at the same time reserving the right to call Dramat to address the committee’s concerns in person.

“I would have expected that General Dramat would have already been in contact with the Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit,” Maynier said, noting that the allegations that a R24 million bribe was paid by BAE Systems to “a South African consultant” emerged several weeks ago, on June 16. Stetler had been expected this week to announce whether or not charges would be brought under Swedish law in connection with the revelations. However, interviewed by telephone on Friday, he told The Sunday Independent that he would opt to explore the possibility of a joint investigation with the South Africans ahead of announcing a final decision on the matter.

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Traffic fatalities up by 28 percent in Sweden


Through the first half of the year, 147 people have died in road accidents, according to the National Transport Administration (Trafikverket). This represents a 28 percent increase when compared to the same period in 2010. February saw the most accidents. While last year the second month of the year saw eight people die on the roads, this year 26 lives were taken.
A further breakdown of the numbers reveals 23 pedestrians killed against nine through the same period last year, in addition to 83 fatalities while driving compared to last year’s 75, and 21 motorcyclists dead against 13 for the first half of 2010.

The Transport Administration's Director General Gunnar Malm could not draw conclusions or definitive answers as to why traffic fatalities are on the rise. “I think it is actually purely random factors, and if we look at the average in recent years, it is actually a reduction,” he told the TT news agency. Malm pointed out the decrease from five years ago, where the year’s midpoint hovered just above 170 traffic fatalities. He said February 2010, with only eight deaths, stands out. “It was an extreme month. We had severe winter conditions which made people cautious and perhaps even keep the car parked. February last year was actually tougher than this year.”


Last year 266 people in Sweden in total were killed in traffic, against 358 the year before. But in 2010, traffic statistics began to exclude fatalities caused by suicide, which on average accounts for about 30 deaths a year. The new quantifying method has not yet been administered for this year, which Malm said will reduce the numbers. Malm also emphasized that looking at individual semi-annual or even monthly statistics can affect the numbers and create the illusion of a rising trend.  He said last year was perhaps "a good one.” “I believe that chance played into our favour quite significantly during the year, and it is important to see the longer trend,” he explained.

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Sommestad to be new face of Sweden's Social Democrat women


Former Environment Minister Lena Sommestad is expected to succeed Nalin Pekgul as leader of the Social Democratic Women in Sweden (S-Kvinnor) party after receiving unanimous nomination by the party’s election committee. According to a statement from the S-Kvinnor Nominating Committee, the asociation needs a fresh start. Sommestad has thus far snubbed out three other candidates, including the incumbent Pekgul.

Sommestad, who was born in 1957, is a professor of economic history at Uppsala University. She served as the nation’s Environment Minister from 2002 to 2006. She also served as the president for the Institute for Future Studies in Stockholm. The party is expected to finalize their nomination during their official annual meeting to be held 26-28 August in Luleå.

The Social Democratic Women in Sweden, established in 1920, is a national feminist association within the Social Democrat party who strive for gender equality and political influence from a female perspective. Current hot topic political issues for the group include women’s right to equal pay for equal work, the balance of a woman’s role at home and at the office, and the lagging number of women in leadership positions, amongst others.


      
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