STOCKHOLM — According to Stockholm Police Detective Inspector Per Englund, Sweden’s novel counter-prostitution regime has “reduced street work dramatically.” Walking that city’s former red-light district – close to Högtorget metro station – Englund’s analysis seemed spot-on. Maybe it was the chilling, incessant winter rain, but only a handful of night-owls, seemingly hurrying to find shelter from the Swedish winter, were seen scurrying along the gothic-dank dusk streets, In 1999, Sweden passed legislation that criminalises the buying of sex, while decriminalising the sale. In other words, the (mostly) men who pay for sex are the culprits – not the (mostly) women selling. After a slow start, better enforcement by police now means that, ‘we have only 100-200 women on the streets in the capital’, as Englund told this newspaper.
DERRY — Police arrested two men on Wednesday in connection with the January murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast. A 49-year-old man was detained in Belfast. The other, aged 36, was arrested in Birmingham. Meanwhile, follow-up searches have been taking place in the Markets area of Belfast, close to where the killing took place. McCartney was murdered on 31 January outside a pub near the Catholic-nationalist Short Strand enclave in East Belfast.
DERRY — Assets worth over UK£5 million, including properties and back accounts linked to Protestant Loyalist paramilitaries, have been frozen by Northern Ireland’s main criminal assets agency. Late on Wednesday night, the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) seized several properties in Northern Ireland and in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, as well as an apartment on the Cote D’Azur in France. In total, 49 properties came under the remit of the ARA action, which had been permitted by Belfast’s High Court. Eight bank accounts were also frozen. The assets belonged to an individual named Colin Armstrong, who has allegedly been involved in drug smuggling from the continent, with links to crime groups based in Belgium. Armstrong is said to have links with two Protestant paramilitary groups – the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), which split from the UVF in the early 1990s. Properties seized were in the Portadown and Craigavon areas south of Belfast. Both towns are LVF strongholds.
DERRY — Police in the Irish Republic have arrested seven people as part of an investigation into Irish Republican Army (IRA) money-laundering. Euro and sterling notes worth a total of €3.6 million were seized in capital Dublin and in Cork, and further police raids were ongoing areas in the midlands and east of the country. One raid on Thursday morning recovered £2 million (nearly €2.9 million) from a house in rural Cork. Senior detectives from Northern Ireland’s police were in Dublin on Friday for a security meeting with their counterparts in the Republic.
DERRY — The Independent Monitoring Commission set up by the Irish and British governments released a report on Thursday, saying that senior Sinn Féin members had advance knowledge of the theft, allegedly by the IRA, of some €31 million from a Belfast bank in December. Both governments have endorsed the findings. In Dublin, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said some of the politicians implicated in the report were household names, but the report did not name anyone directly. Sinn Féin is said to be the political wing of the Irish Republican Army and its president, Gerry Adams, responded to the IMC report by challenging the Irish government to either have him arrested or cease what he termed “unsubstantiated allegations.” Early on Friday, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern described Adams’ comments as “a little bit childish…a little bit nonsense.”