Iraq jails 18 police officers over Sweden embassy fire

Some of those involved in the case were permanently disbarred from the force

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr climb the fence outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on July 20 as firefighters try to extinguish a blaze there.  AFP
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Eighteen police officers were given prison sentences of up to three years by an Iraqi court on Tuesday for failing to stop protesters storming and torching Sweden's embassy in Baghdad, security officials said.

The Swedish embassy in Baghdad was set alight by supporters of the powerful Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Al Sadr on the night of July 20, after an Iraqi refugee desecrated the Quran in Stockholm.

A copy of the verdict seen by AFP said 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.

Eight police received three-year jail terms, seven were given two years and three months, and three were sentenced to 18 months in prison, an Interior Ministry official confirmed.

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 against the ruling.

Protests in region against desecration of Quran in Sweden - in pictures

The desecration of the Quran, which happened repeatedly in Sweden and Denmark this summer, sparked tension between the Scandinavian countries and Muslim nations.

Iraq retaliated against Stockholm for allowing protests in which the Quran 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 mean any approval of the action taken in the protests.

Updated: September 12, 2023, 9:45 PM