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Swedish Inmate Strike Ends Peacefully

December 5, 2002

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ An inmate strike at a Swedish prison ended peacefully after a popular television channel was restored, an official said Thursday.

About 50 of the 66 inmates at the Mariestad prison refused to return to their cells at bedtime Monday when the prison lost the signal to Kanal 5, a Swedish channel carried on cable or satellite, regional corrections chief Uno Rodin said.

Riot police were called in, but the five-hour protest ended peacefully after prison officials persuaded the inmates to return to their cells. The next day, 28 inmates refused to go to work because the channel still wasn’t appearing, Rodin said.

Kanal 5 spokesman Carl Fredrik Mannerberg said the prison had not adjusted its receiver when the signal switched from one satellite to another a week earlier. He sent a technician to Mariestad to adjust the receiver Tuesday, and the inmates returned to work.

``All our viewers are tremendously important,″ Mannerberg said. ``It’s not that easy for an inmate to go adjust the receiver himself. It was important for me to do this civic service ahead of Christmas.″

Kanal 5 is distributed to 2.4 million households in Sweden. Programs include the American show ``CSI: Crime Scene Investigation″ and ``Fraaga Olle,″ or ``Ask Olle,″ a Swedish show which features a sex expert taking calls from viewers.

Four inmates will be moved from the medium-security prison 150 miles southwest of Stockholm for their involvement in the strike, Rodin said.

Rainer Bahlstroem, 48, imprisoned for drug and illegal driving convictions, refused to take part in the protest, saying it was organized by a group of ``whippersnappers who didn’t know what they were doing.″

``I went to bed because I thought it was childish,″ Bahlstroem told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the prison. ``I don’t watch Kanal 5. There are four other channels, that’s enough.″

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