Subject: Swedish media blush as reporters caught pants down
Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2001 2:59 PM

 Swedish media blush as reporters caught pants down


STOCKHOLM, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Swedish newspapers were blushing on Friday after it emerged that "peacekeeping soldiers" they accused of engaging in illegal encounters with prostitutes in the Balkans were in fact Swedish newspaper journalists.

Sensationalist tabloids had a field day last autumn with reports that Swedish soldiers on assignment in former Yugoslavia had competed to couple with the greatest number of prostitutes.

Under Swedish law buying sex is a crime and the media last year described the soldiers' behaviour as offensive and humiliating for the women involved. The army launched a formal investigation into the reports.

Angered by the negative publicity, the military career officers' trade union released a statement saying the inquiry had identified the perpetrators as professional journalists serving as the peacekeeping unit's press officers.

They were usually employed by Swedish regional newspapers, the union told Reuters. Sweden's peacekeeping units routinely consist of both career officers and volunteer reservists.

According to reports of the scandal, the men had used rubber stamps of their own names to mark with ink the upper thighs of the females they bedded. They then compared photographs of the imprints to decide who had won the contest.

11:23 09-07-01

Copyright 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.