Sweden: 3 ex-terror suspects held on murder claims

September 14, 2011 - 10:20 AM

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Swedish court on Wednesday detained three of the four men initially suspected of preparing a terrorist attack in Sweden's second-largest city on preliminary charges of plotting a murder.

A 24-year-old was released due to lack of evidence, the Goteborg district court said.

The men, aged between 23 and 26, were arrested in a sting in Goteborg on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, at the same time as around 400 people were evacuated from an arts center.

Prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnstrom told The Associated Press the men still detained are now only suspected of planning to murder one individual, but wouldn't say who that person was.

Swedish tabloid Expressen, citing an unnamed police source, has reported the men, of Somali and Iraqi origin, are suspected of ties to the al-Qaida-linked Somali insurgent group al-Shabab, but Hilding Qvarnstrom declined to say if they may have links to any terrorist organization.

"To charge someone with a terror crime, a prerequisite is that they tried to hurt the state, the Swedish society, in a radical way and that was our line of thought early on. Later, the investigation took a different turn," she said, explaining why she dropped terrorism from the charges.

The arrests and evacuation of the arts center — which is located beneath the city's landmark half-mile (930-meter) Alvsborg bridge — spread jitters across Sweden, which saw a suicide bomber blow himself up on a pedestrian street in Stockholm in December.