18 Iraq police get jail terms over Sweden embassy fire

BAGHDAD (AFP) : An Iraqi court gave 18 police officers jail sentences of up to three years Tuesday for failing to stop protesters storming and torching Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad, security officials said.

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