Swedish berry trader arrested in Thailand

Ari Hallikainen, the Swede who left 149 Thai berry pickers stranded after emptying his firm Lomsjö Bär of cash and fleeing the country, has been arrested in Thailand.

According to the Bangkok Post, Thai police recently received information from locals that the 52-year-old Hallikainen was living in a house in the Muang district of Chon Buri, a province in east Thailand.

Hallikainen disappeared from Sweden in the autumn of 2010, just before his berry company went bust.

The 159 Thai workers he employed did not receive their wages and were stranded in Sweden for months while waiting to receive state wage guarantee payouts.

Hallikanen had a series of bankruptcies behind him and in 2007 faced charges of assault involving berry pickers in Hälsingland.

His firm, Lomsjö Bär, was also involved in a highly publicized fight in Särna in the summer of 2010 involving Vietnamese berry pickers. The argument led to the arrest of several berry pickers after they locked in their supervisors.

The Thai chief of police said that it was hard to track Hallikainen down since he regularly switched hiding places, reported local Swedish newspaper Västerbottenskuriren (VK).

Hallikainen was present at a press conference in Thailand this week and several local Thai news outlets reported on his arrest.

He had been detained in absentia for several months.

According to Bangkok Post, Hallikainen has confessed and some Thais were also involved in the Lomsjö Bär scam.

Thai police plan to track down other gang members and Hallikainen will be sent to the Thai Immigration Bureau for further legal proceedings.

Source: The Local

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