Uppsala, Sweden – Three men, two of them Afghan migrants, were arrested on Monday for the gang rape of a woman that was broadcast live on Facebook.
According to Fox 32, Swedish Police Officers received several calls from disturbed viewers on Sunday morning. The reports were from people who said they were watching a Facebook Live stream of two men sexually assaulting a woman who appeared to be either unconscious or intoxicated. Upon arrival, police officers found three male suspects at a residence and the victim. Up to 200 people were watching the video online when police arrived.
The Facebook Live video was uploaded to a closed group of thousands of users on Sunday, according to The Washington Post. In the video, which occurred at an apartment, the men could be heard saying “You have been raped” and “Three Against One.” One suspect pointed a gun at the camera and told viewers “Come here then.” Others reported seeing the suspects with the victim at gunpoint and forcing her to say that she hadn’t been attacked.
Christine Chen, Facebook spokeswoman, said “this is a hideous crime and we do not tolerate this kind of content on Facebook.” She also said that, “if someone does violate our community standards while using Live, we want to interrupt these streams as quickly as possible when they’re reported to us. So we’ve given people a way to report violations during a live broadcast.”
Two of the suspects, ages 18 and 20, are migrants from Afghanistan and the third suspect, age 24, is a Swedish citizen. The nationalities of the suspects are controversial because Sweden, like other countries, is having a fierce national debate over the issue of immigrants and refugees. This was the second report of a rape in Sweden involving Afghan migrants within three months. The two Afghan suspects are suspected of the actual rape of the victim while the third suspect, who is a Swedish citizen, is suspected of failing to report a crime.
The victim, age 30, who was not identified, said later in a victim impact statement, that “before the incident, I would have described myself as a positive person. I was horrified and extremely embarrassed to see the footage. I felt ashamed and angry with myself.”
The video has since been removed and Swedish police were urging anyone with a copy to contact them. They have also contacted Facebook and are using legal procedures to obtain the video, including asking d for legal assistance from U.S. authorities since Facebook is based in the United States. Investigators have been able to retrieve some still images but the video is needed for prosecution.
The three suspects, whose names have not been released, have not been formally charged but remain under arrest in Sweden, according to a law that allows this if there is a substantial flight risk for the suspects to flee the country. All deny the allegations, with one stating that he cannot go into details and another stating that there is a “perfectly coherent” reason for what happened.
There is never an acceptable, coherent reason for a violent sexual assault on a human being, much less one that is broadcast live. Nothing gives anyone the right to rape a woman if she is too impaired to consent and/or unconscious. We commend Swedish police for their investigation and determination to bring these three suspects to justice.
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