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Family Held Captive in Uppsala

Published måndag 13 juli 2009 kl 15.30
The house where the family were kept

A father in Uppsala, north of Stockholm, is suspected to have kept his four children more or less captive in their home. Through physical abuse and close watch, the man had controlled his children’s day to day life and kept them from going outside. They were only allowed out accompanied by their father. The man’s wife was also periodically kept from leaving the house.

The man was brought in for questioning at the end of June after police had been alerted of a fight in the apartment. The man, said to have abused his wife repeatedly, was taken into custody by police. During investigations it turned out that he had been keeping his two sons and two daughters from going to school or moving about freely.

The children are all Swedish citizens and born in Sweden but the family has allegedly been resident in other countries, including the man’s country of origin, for long stretches of time.

The Social Services of Uppsala municipality had no knowledge of the family whatsoever, until they were made aware of the situation by the Police.

“We have had no contact with this particular family at all,” Susanne Söderberg of the Uppsala Social Services told Swedish News Agency TT.

The reason is that there has been no indication that they were in need of help. Usually a report is made by someone who suspects a problem, such as the school, the police, family, neighbours, or the local health centre. The reason no one has suspected that something was amiss is probably that they have travelled a lot, according to the Uppsala Police spokesperson Christer Nordström.

“They have been away the last few years, very possibly since 2004. They didn’t return to Sweden until this year,“ he said to TT.

According to Nordström, neighbours were beginning to get suspicious as the children were never seen outside on their own. A complaint is also reported to have come in from the children’s mother.

“It is hard to believe that it is possible to be born in Sweden and not go to school. It raises questions on how clear we are on those that arrive in Sweden and their kids,” Nordström told TT.

According to the father’s lawyer he denies the charges. He claims that the children have been attending school abroad.

Municipal Commissioner for Uppsala, Cecilia Forss, told TT that they have noticed that the children, who were registered in Uppsala, have not been to local school.

“But the parents have attested that the children were receiving schooling abroad and that they are not resident in Uppsala during term time,” she said.

Education is only compulsory if the children are registered in Sweden during the school terms. According to Forss, it is very unusual for parents to lie about their children’s education.

“I have heard of parents that prefer their children to go to school in another country or have some other solution for their schooling. But it is unheard of that they have deliberately lied and kept their kids from getting an education. It seems unbelievable that you would want to keep your children out of school, “she said to TT.

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