3 detained in Sweden over live streaming of gang rape on Facebook

Swedish Police detain three men on suspicion of raping a woman in an assault that was broadcast live on Facebook.

STOCKHOLM • Three young men suspected of gang raping a woman in Sweden and live streaming the attack on Facebook have been detained, according to the police, who are urging social media users to hand over any footage they may hold.

The suspects, aged 18, 20 and 24, were arrested early on Sunday in an apartment in Uppsala, 70km north of Stockholm, in the presence of their 30-year-old victim after members of a Facebook group saw the attack streamed live and alerted police. The closed Facebook group had 60,000 members.

While Facebook Live streams in real time, videos can be replayed by people with access to the page if those who filmed the videos choose that option, unless the videos are removed. There are ways for viewers to record the stream on computers or to take screenshots of it.

Ms Josefine Lundgren, 21, was one of the first to call the authorities. She told daily Expressen that the 24-year-old suspect, a repeat offender considered by police to be the main attacker, "tore the clothes off" his victim before raping her.

The attacker also "had apparently filmed everything and took pictures that he put on (messaging app) Snapchat", she said.

Although the film has been removed from Facebook, it has been circulated on the Internet. Swedish media have published excerpts of the footage, showing at least one of the suspects holding a revolver.

Swedish Television News reported that there might have been two live videos on Facebook, the first showing a rape and the second capturing a man trying to force a woman to deny that she had been raped.

Ms Linda Johansson, who lives in southern Sweden, told Swedish Television News that she watched the second live video. "The girl was sitting in front of the camera while the man who filmed her tried to convince her to deny that she had been raped," Ms Johansson said. "He was taunting and laughing throughout the whole clip."

A spokesman for Facebook in the Nordic countries denounced it as "a hideous crime".

"Our teams work around the clock to review content that is being reported by users" and Facebook cooperates systematically with police in criminal investigations, he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline '3 detained in Sweden over live streaming of gang rape on Facebook'. Print Edition | Subscribe