Stockholm summons Iraqi ambassador following execution of Swedish national

Stockholm summons Iraqi ambassador following execution of Swedish national
Iraq has broken precedent and executed a European dual national, sparking anger at his home in Sweden and sparking fears that more non-Iraqis could be hanged.
3 min read
16 December, 2017
Hundreds of prisoners are feared to be on death row [AFP]


Sweden summoned the Iraqi ambassador to the foreign ministry on Friday following the execution of a Swedish national in southern Iraq this week.

Sweden's foreign ministry called in Iraq's leading diplomat for answers, after it was revealed a Swedish-Iraqi dual national was hanged in al-Nasiriyyah on Thursday, along with 37 others.

"We've had intensive consular activity since we were made aware of this. We protested the death sentence and took it up at a high level with Iraqi representatives," Foreign Ministry Deputy Director Patric Nilsson told Swedish state news.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is said to have personally taken up the case, according to The Local.

"I have no details, but we knew this person has been in prison in Iraq, accused of terror offences," Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said.

"Our position is that if you travel to another country and commit crimes, you can expect to be punished in that country. We have, however, also previously raised our basic opposition to the death penalty."

Little is known about the man, but he is said to be in his sixties and was sentenced to death in 2010 for terror crimes.

He had links with the al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was to become the Islamic State group, Swedish media reported.

Other Swedish nationals are believed to be in Iraqi custody but it is not known of these prisoners are on death row.

Baghdad is a prolific executioner and secretive about its death penalty process and notorious anti-terror laws.

Critics have said the laws are not transparent and given the government powers to arrest and put to death any suspects or opponents. 

Iraq has been rocked by over a decade of sectarian strife that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in shootings, murders and bombings.

Sunnis have said they are unfairly targeted by the Shia-led government's anti-terror laws and such anger has allowed for the radical Islamic State group to gain popularity.

Since the recapture of Iraqi territories from the Islamic State group and preceding years, Baghdad has put dozens of terror suspects to death in mass executions.

Thousands of foreign fighters moved to Iraq and Syria following the announcement of a "caliphate" by Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Among them were thousands of European nationals including Belgians, British, French, Germans and Swedish.

Some European countries fear that their citizens captured by the Iraqi government will be executed.

A 17-year-old German girl - a so-called "jihadi bride" - has been held by Iraqi authorities since the government forces recaptured Mosul from IS earlier this year.

She will stand trial next month with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi saying she could face the death penalty.