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The Swedish Geese & The Assange Gander

Now if someone - anyone - ever insists it's not political again...

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This story takes a while to develop. It dates from 28 October last year. The punch line comes at the bottom.

1. The Swedish Geese

Aftonbladet's Martin Ekelund reported on an unfortunate incident on the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Åland. The basics:

Swede Christer Skoog and his mates from work took the 'party ferry' in October 2009. A quite common occurrence. Booze is tax-free and cheap and it's party all night long. Or at least into the wee hours. The ferry docks in Mariehamn in the morning, there's a bit of a delay, then it sails back for Stockholm where a lot of hung over people buy stuff in the duty-free and otherwise nurse their sore heads.

Fun weekend, Scandinavian style.

At 02:00 AM on the way out to Åland, Skoog decides to call it a night and hit the sack. On his way to his cabin, he meets up with one of the Irish musicians working the boat. Another Irishman joins the duo and the next thing you know there's a fracas. A rather brutal one. And it's all recorded on the boat's CCTV. The entire event.

The CCTV recording shows clearly how the two Irishmen attack Christer and knock him down. Then one of them stamps five times hard on his skull. The Irishmen disappear into their own cabin - and then 30 seconds later the one of them returns and kicks the unconscious Christer twice in the face.

Two ferry guards turn up shortly after. They question the two Irishmen who flay their arms, explaining there'd been a fight. The guards climb over the unconscious Christer for ten minutes before the one of them thinks to check if Christer's still alive. They get a pulse and contact the ferry's emergency services.

'My heart started racing - that was a sign things were subsiding', says Christer. 'If I hadn't been a footballer for twenty years I'd never have survived.'

The Irishmen 'partially' admit to their crime and they're arrested by the Åland police in Mariehamn when the ferry docks. Now the fun begins. For inasmuch as the crime took place in Swedish waters, it's a Swedish and not a Finnish crime.

Swedish Prosecutor Thomas Holst

Swedish prosecutor Thomas Holst back on the mainland takes over the case. He's got CCTV footage, the testimony, and all the necessary identification. But Holst decides to close the case anyway.

'We can't get ahold of the suspects', he claims.

'But they're known, identified, and are currently in Ireland!' protests reporter Martin Ekelund.

Holst tries 'reasoning' with Ekelund.

'If we were to try to extradite everyone who's committed a crime, we'd have way too much to do!' Holst adds that extradition (such as through an EAW - European Arrest Warrant) isn't realistic anyway.

'That's not the way it works. We do things like that only with serious crimes - like murder!'

Christer's Still Not Fully Recovered

But that's not much consolation for Christer Skoog. He can't get closure. The nightmare continues. 'I can't get it to end', he says. 'It just keeps on going.'

Christer said back in October he'd try to get the case reopened. No news yet if he succeeded. It's only been three months.

The ferry company Viking Line are conducting their own internal investigation into the behaviour of their guards. 'You can be sure there will be consequences', says Viking Line's Jan Kårström.

A year later, Christer Skoog is still on a diet of prescription pain pills, can only work half-time, and as husky as he is, has become too afraid to be outdoors in the dark. He's still suffering grievously and has a long way to go to a full recovery.

2. The Assange Gander

There's no broken condom in the above story. Nor is there mention of an erect penis nudging someone's spine and 'violating' their 'sexual integrity'. But there's real blood and brutal violence.

And there's no 'he said/she said' either - it's all on a CCTV recording.

But that's nothing for the Swedish prosecutors to bother with. Their own citizens getting attacked (and almost killed) like that - that's nothing to get upset about.

But bring a decadent drunk into the picture who really wants his party to win the national elections and who needs a comeback after making himself into the biggest crook in Swedish legal history - and then you've got something.

And you get a case reopened not in months but in hours.

Let no one henceforth at any time, for any reason, claim the legal attack on Julian Assange is not political.

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