Juni 29 , 2013
A Desperate cry for help. Swedes held imprisoned innocent for 8 months
In November 2012, on behalf of the company ABP World Group, Daniel Bakke, 37, and Per-Åke “Pelle” Helgesson, 54, went to Tunisia together with a Norwegian woman to help her retrieve her child who had been illegally taken by the child’s Tunisian father.
Instead, they were arrested by Tunisian police on suspicion of preparing an armed kidnapping. Since their arrest in November, the Norwegian mother has been awarded sole custody of the child in both Norwegian and Tunisian courts, but the Swedes remain in the Mornaguia prison, southwest of the capital Tunis without trial.
Due to the fact that the legal system in Tunisia will close for summer vacation, they now face the risk of spending at least another four more months in prison – and the Swedes are starting to lose hope.
“I cannot take another setback now. I’m exhausted and have to go home to my children”, Pelle writes in a letter from prison.
Per Åke “Pelle” Helgesson
This has happened:
November 11, 2012: The two Swedes went together with a Norwegian woman to Tunisia to help her retrieve her child that the child’s father had illegally taken from Norway.
November 17 2012: Daniel Bakke’s brother, Christian Franzetti, says in an interview to Aftonbladet that the Swedes are suffering in the Tunisian prison, only getting dry pieces of bread and bad water. According to their lawyer, they risk up to ten years in prison for attempted kidnapping.
January 11, 2013: Aftonbladet published a letter written by Per-Åke “Pelle” Helgesson and smuggled out from prison in which he says that there are bed lice and they have been denied visits, are being harassed and abused, both mentally and physically, by the police,”
June 20, 2013: The Swedes are denied the preliminary investigation which should have been carried out by a so-called pre-trial judge. They instead refer the case to criminal court.
Want to get attention
Now the men’s families come forward in the hope that the case will get attention and that the men will be freed.
Melody Guarino Bakke, in December celebrated one-year wedding anniversary but she was alone at the couple’s home in the Philippines, while Daniel was locked up in a Tunisian prison – There are no words to describe the situation. Daniel is the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last when I go to bed, she says to Aftonbladet.
Her wish is that the Swedish authorities and the State Department put more effort into helping free the two Swedes.
Last Thursday the relatives received more bad news when a judge rejected a request that the investigation should be closed. The two men could now be forced to wait all summer before their case reaches court since they will be closed between 15 July and 15 September.
As a relative, you feel powerless. This can be compared to a similar case where a couple of journalists were detained in an African country, but with the difference that the pressure from Swedish authorities was very high. Here, the guys did not even do anything wrong and yet they are imprisoned without being charged, says Daniel Bakke’s brother, Christian Franzetti to Aftonbladet.
I wish that someone would put a foot down, demanding to know what they are being accused of and presented with supporting proofs. I also wish for more backbone and higher pressure. The State Department probably do the best they can, but I wish they took more interest in the case and did more.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry says that they follow the matter closely and have discussions with the Tunisian authorities regarding the Swedes.
We know that the lawyer is trying to push for a main hearing before the summer and we do what we can to bring the matter to the table in our conversations with the Tunisian authorities, says Camilla Åkesson Lindblom at the Foreign Ministry’s press service.
You can help! Please e-mail the Swedish Foreign Minister asking him to take action before it´s too late! firstname.lastname@example.org
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