Iraqi police officers jailed for failing to protect Swedish embassy

An Iraqi court gave 18 police officers jail sentences of up to three years for failing to stop protesters storming and torching Sweden's embassy in Baghdad, security officials said.

Iraqi police officers jailed for failing to protect Swedish embassy
Protesters threw stones during clashes with security forces in front of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on July 20th. Photo: AP Photo/Hadi Mizban

Supporters of the powerful Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr set the Swedish embassy in Baghdad alight on the night of July 20th, after a Stockholm-based Iraqi refugee desecrated the Quran in Stockholm.

The internal security forces court in Baghdad on Tuesday found 18 police officers guilty of failing to carry out their duties by allowing the protesters to attack the embassy, said a copy of the verdict seen by AFP.

Eight police received three-year jail terms, seven got two years and three months and three others were sentenced to 18 months in prison according to the text authenticated by an interior ministry official who attended the hearing.

Some of the police involved in the case were permanently disbarred from the force, according to the verdict.

The officers, who included members of the diplomatic protection forces, can appeal the ruling.

The desecration of the Quran, which happened repeatedly in Sweden and Denmark this summer, sparked tensions between the Scandinavian countries and Muslim nations in the Middle East.

Iraq retaliated against Stockholm for permitting protests in which the Quran was desecrated by announcing the expulsion of the Sweden’s ambassador.

Swedish authorities had allowed the demonstrations on free-speech grounds, but said giving their permission did not signal any approval of the action taken in the protests.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Iran demands Sweden act against Quran burnings, free prisoner

Iran has demanded Sweden take action over Quran burnings before the two countries can exchange ambassadors again, and urged it to release a jailed Iranian citizen, the foreign ministry said Sunday.

Iran demands Sweden act against Quran burnings, free prisoner

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian discussed the Koran issue with his Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the foreign ministry said.

“Regarding the exchange of ambassadors, we are waiting for good action on the issue of the Holy Quran in Sweden,” Iran’s top envoy told Billstrom in New York, the Iranian ministry said in a statement.

Sweden has seen a series of public burnings of the Islamic holy book. Stockholm has voiced condemnation but said it cannot stop acts protected under laws on free expression.

Iran said in July it would not allow a new Swedish ambassador into the country after the mission of the last envoy ended.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi days ago held up a Koran at the UN rostrum and declared that “the fires of disrespect will not overcome the divine truth”, also condemning “Islamophobia and cultural apartheid” in the West.

Amir-Abdollahian told his Swedish counterpart that “defending the values of Sweden at the cost of ignoring the values of two billion Muslims in the world is unacceptable”.


He also urged Stockholm to release Hamid Noury, an Iranian arrested in November 2019 and sentenced to life in prison after being convicted over the mass executions of prisoners ordered by Tehran in 1988.

“We expect that the Swedish government will make a wise and courageous decision in the appeal stage and release Mr Noury,” the minister said, adding that “we are ready for positive and constructive cooperation in various fields”.

The statement did not address Swedish nationals incarcerated in Iran, including the EU diplomat Johan Floderus, 33, who has been detained for more than 500 days.

In July last year, Iran announced it had arrested a Swede on suspicion of espionage, and earlier this month Iran’s judiciary stated that the Swedish citizen had committed crimes Iran.

Another Iranian-Swedish citizen, the academic Ahmadreza Djalali, is at risk of being hanged after a conviction on the charge of “corruption on earth” in Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality. He was sentenced to death in 2017 for allegedly spying for Israel, an accusation his family vehemently rejects.

In May, Iran hanged another Swedish-Iranian, Habib Chaab, on a terrorism conviction, drawing strong condemnation from Sweden. Chaab, an Iranian dissident, had been held in the Islamic republic since October 2020 after he vanished during a visit to Turkey.

Chaab had also been convicted of “corruption on earth” after being found guilty of heading a rebel group accused of staging attacks in Iran since 2005.

Iran executes more people yearly than any other nation except China, according to human rights groups including Amnesty International.