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26 Jan, 2017 15:25

Gang-rape livestream probe: Migrant suspects in Swedish custody, Facebook asked to retrieve video

Gang-rape livestream probe: Migrant suspects in Swedish custody, Facebook asked to retrieve video

Swedish prosecutors have asked Facebook to retrieve a video of what is suspected to be a gang-rape livestreamed on the social media on Sunday. Investigators say it would be “central evidence” in the case, in which Afghan migrants have been detained.

Two men from Afghanistan, aged 20 and 18, have been remanded in custody by a district court in Uppsala, Sweden, after they were detained during what is suspected to be the gang-rape of a 30-year old woman which was livestreamed on Facebook. The third man, a 24-year-old Swedish citizen, is also in custody, the Local reported, saying that he is suspected of failing to report the rape.

The suspects have not been charged, but remain under arrest, with Swedish law providing such a measure in case they are suspected of a serious crime and there is a risk they might flee the country.

Police had been reportedly tipped off by one of the social media users, who saw the harrowing livestream on one of Facebook's closed groups. Some excerpts of the footage circulating on the internet suggest at least one of the suspects was holding a revolver, while some witnesses said the woman who was being gang-raped was close to unconscious at the time.

Up to 200 people had been watching the video at some point before the police suddenly arrived on the scene, a witness has claimed. The video has been removed from Facebook.

Swedish authorities had contacted Facebook and asked for assistance to retrieve the video, prosecutor leading the investigation, Pontus Melander, told Sweden’s TT news agency.

Facebook has said that they want to cooperate, but they are based in the US so we need international legal aid, which I have requested,” he told the agency on Wednesday, as quoted by the Local.

Investigators got hold of some still images and certain footage, but are still working to find the particular video sequence allegedly showing the rape, Uppsala's Deputy Chief Prosecutor Magnus Berggren told the Local.

A film would of course have been central evidence,” he said, adding that “there is also other evidence.” Authorities have appealed for anyone in possession of the video to get in touch with them and are also “questioning people who have at least seen parts of the live streaming on Facebook.”

Meanwhile, the men deny the accusations, with their lawyers apparently saying there is not enough “strong evidence” to prove otherwise. One of the suspects “has given in my opinion a perfectly coherent story about what happened,” a lawyer for one of the Afghans has said, adding that he “cannot go into details.”