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Assange & Sweden: Pea Soup & Pancakes

Scratch everything else you've learned about Swedish justice and read this - it's far worse.

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STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Rixstep) — Pea soup and pancake lunch on Thursdays is a tradition in Sweden. The Swedish military still serve it. Almost all lunch restaurants offer it. The Royal Institute of Technology raised the bar infamously by also offering a liqueur known as Kaptenlöjtnant, a mix of brandy, cognac liqueur, and spices.

The pea soup is made from yellow peas and normally contains small pieces of pork and is eaten with a generous glob of a Swedish mustard such as Skånsk senap on the rim of the dish. The Swede spoons up a bit of the soup, dips the edge of the spoon into the mustard, and swallows.

The pancakes are served/eaten afterwards. They're not really pancakes but crêpes, served with fruit preserves and often whipped cream as a further topping.

Not everyone in Sweden wants ärtsoppa och pannkakor for lunch every Thursday or even any Thursday but the meal is a tradition. And the Swedish cabinet make a point of getting together every Thursday for the meal and to discuss the topics uppermost in their minds.

Small wonder then that on Thursday 10 February, following the Belmarsh extradition hearings for Julian Assange on 7 and 8 February, there was plenty to talk about.

Two noted Swedish jurists had taken the stand for Assange: the nearly revered Brita Sundberg-Weitman and former head prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem. Neither were particularly sweet on Sweden's strange judicial practices.

Geoffrey Robertson also pointed out that Swedes don't enjoy trial by their peers (layperson political appointees instead) and that cases are often conducted behind closed doors with no public insight.

All of which was enough to get the ultraconservative government run by Karl Rove's buddy Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt to break the taboo and the code of ethics and go out in a three-man attack in the international media.

But that was for the international masses. Fredrik Reinfeldt saved the best for the domestic audience - that gathering of trembling natives who do the bidding of their big brothers and big sisters and the media elite and try not to think of what is being written about their country.

They've been scarred before - they certainly don't want it happening again. And so PM Fredrick Reinfeldt again to the rescue, this time soliciting a chitchat with Swedish Radio (which he as PM unofficially controls) where all the right questions are asked and he is able to impress the listeners with his studious detachment and calm.

Q: There's an impression of Swedish jurisprudence in conjunction with Julian Assange that's - well it's a pretty bad impression of how things work in Sweden! What do you have to say about that?

A: Yes it's unfortunate. We have an independent judicial system that in this case we've summoned Julian Assange to prosecution for crimes against the state because he's been accused of rape. I can only lament that the rights and positions of the women don't mean more when it comes to this type of questions compared with other types of theories that are circulating and I merely defend the fact that everyone in Sweden is already aware of, namely that we have an unpolitical independently controlled judicial system.

Q: Assange's barrister goes so far as to say that trials behind closed doors mean there's a risk justice will be abused.

A: Yes, it's unfortunately the way things work sometimes - that one tries to defend a client, describe another country's judicial system in condescending terms. But all who live in Sweden know that this doesn't correspond to reality. We have extensive deep civil rights traditions from an independent righteous judicial system in Sweden. And let us not forget what's at risk here: women's right to see to what extent it's been an assault they were the victims of. And we don't know what is true and what is false and what the verdict will be. But to attempt to circumvent this in that manner - to make it appear that their rights aren't worth very much - I think that's unfortunate because I think it's important that we've come a long way in Sweden when it comes to being more explicit that we don't accept sexual assault, rape, but think this should be tested, that what's happened should be clarified.

Q: This impression of Swedish justice has garnered support in London by two prominent Swedish jurists on location. What do you have to say about that?

A: I heard a reference to this and again I don't think anyone in the judicial system recognises this description - that there's political influence, political control. I've also had to answer questions internationally about the government controlling decisions on general immigrant issues which in Sweden are decentralised within our judicial system.

Q: You've been the judicial spokesperson for your party and there's been criticism that this European Arrest Warrant procedure has been used incorrectly.

A: We had a discussion about the origins of the European Arrest Warrant that I was involved in. Because what one remembers is that we don't always mean the same thing when we describe crimes as other countries do. But one must remember that this serves a higher purpose. And that is that one should not be able to commit a crime in a country - a very serious crime - and then travel to another country and thereby extricate oneself from the process. So in reality we'd have created a judicially insecure system where crime victims cannot get justice or their day in court. And the European Arrest Warrant has despite all corrected this.

Q: Assange is afraid he can be extradited to the US from Sweden!

A: And so we've pointed out that there are judicial systems that speak to one another in cases of extradition. But the system works so that the extradition of an individual who in such case is sent from Great Britain to Sweden in order to be sent on to yet another country must get the approval of Great Britain. But this isn't a political decision - this is a decision of judicial system.

Q: So the cabinet aren't at all involved in this?

A: No! The cabinet aren't at all involved in this!

And that's precisely the reason they rushed straight from their pea soup and pancakes to the media to clarify it.

If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade. If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point.
 - Björn Hurtig

I can tell you that the Swedish prosecution still hasn't provided copies of those SMS texts that have been referred to. Those texts are some of the most powerful exculpatory evidence. In Australia prosecutors have a very grave duty to disclose such evidence to courts when seeking the grave exercise of a court's power against an individual. Yet in Sweden in this case, in the first hearings to obtain an arrest warrant, those texts were not submitted to the Swedish court, which is highly improper.
 - James Catlin

See Also
The Technological: Reinfeldt's Brain
Red Hat Diaries: Assange & Sweden: 2 x Svensson
Industry Watch: Shock & Horror! Swedes Ridiculed Worldwide!
Industry Watch: Greeting from New Chairman Brita Sundberg-Weitman
The Technological: Assange to NATO: Sweden a Voluntary Vassal State of US

Assange in Sweden: The Police Protocol (Translated)
Finers Stephens Innocent: The Julian Assange Case Papers

Industry Watch: Assange: The Hornets Nest
Hall of Monkeys: Three Women II: The Sex War
Sunday Times: Accuser snapped me in the nude
Red Hat Diaries: How to Rape Julian Assange Twice

WikiLeaks: Support WikiLeaks
Rixstep: Assange/WikiLeaks RSS Feed
Radsoft: Assange/WikiLeaks RSS Feed

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