Iraq jails police for failing to halt torching of Swedish embassy after Koran burning

FILE PHOTO: Iraqis demonstrate against the desecration of the Koran in Sweden, in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi court sentenced 18 police officers to prison after they were found guilty of failing to prevent protesters from setting fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in July over a planned Koran burning in Stockholm.

A Baghdad court passed the sentences, ranging from 18 months to three years, on Tuesday, according to a copy of the judgment obtained by Reuters and confirmed by two interior ministry officials.

It says the officers were convicted of "abstaining from their duties to protect the Swedish embassy and to stop the persons who stormed and set fire to it".

The verdicts and the sentences can be appealed, the document says.

A government source confirmed the jail terms and said the verdict showed the Iraqi state was committed to holding people accountable for the violence.

Hundreds of protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in July and set it on fire over a planned Koran burning in Stockholm.

Anti-Islam protesters, one of whom is an Iraqi immigrant to Sweden who burned the Koran outside a Stockholm mosque in June, had applied for and received permission from Swedish police to burn the Koran outside the Iraqi embassy.

The burnings caused outrage in the Muslim world, prompting weeks of protests in Iraq and a diplomatic spat between Baghdad and Stockholm that led Iraq to expel the Swedish ambassador and recall its representative in Stockholm.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Timour Azhari; Editing by Nick Macfie)