April 12, 2017 / 1:10 PM / 7 months ago

Sweden to fast-track tighter law on joining militant groups

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s centre-left government wants to fast-track plans to make it a criminal offence to be a member of what it deems a terrorist organisation, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said, bringing Sweden into line with neighbour Norway.

STOCKHOLM 2017-04-08 Forensic police investigators work at the crime scene in central Stockholm on April 08, 2017, the day after a hijacked beer truck plowed into pedestrians on Drottninggatan and crashed into Ahlens department store, killing four people, injuring 15 others. TT News Agency/Noella Johansson/via REUTERS

The deadly truck attack in central Stockholm that left four dead and injured another 15 has led to widespread calls for tighter laws, more resources for police and a speedier framework for deporting people who have been denied asylum.

“Freedom of association was never intended to mean that you could be active in terrorist organisations,” Johansson told a news conference.

“In the circumstance, this will be fast-tracked.”

Similar measures have been discussed previously in Sweden, but were abandonded because they could clash with civil liberties enshrined in Sweden’s constitution.

The government has appointed a high court judge to investigate legal framework for a new law, which could be introduced by autumn next year.

Police have said that Rakhmat Akilov, who is suspected mowing down shoppers on a busy Stockholm street in a hijacked truck, had expressed sympathies with extremist organisations.

Security services had not viewed him as a militant threat.

Sweden already has a law making it illegal to travel abroad for terrorist purposes.

Norway introduced a law making it illegal to be a member of a terrorist organisation in 2013.

Reporting by Simon Johnson

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