Sweden cracks down on illegal workers after truck attack

Rakhmat Akilov has confessed to driving the truck that mowed down pedestrians in Stockholm this month, killing four and injuring 15 others

Sweden on Thursday announced tougher measures against illegal immigration, weeks after the main suspect behind the deadly Stockholm attack was identified as an Uzbek who had ignored a deportation order.

Slammed for having failed to expel 39-year-old Rakhmat Akilov, who had gone underground after being denied a residency permit in 2016, the government vowed to take action.

The proposal, which is likely to pass in the parliament, will allow police to carry out surprise inspections at workplaces and double the amount of fines for hiring illegal immigrants.

Police will also be able to take fingerprints within Swedish borders during identity checks to better track down people who have received deportation orders.

"It's going to hurt employers who take advantage of these people who often find themselves in a vulnerable situation," Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told a news conference in Stockholm.

A company found to have hired ten illegal immigrants will face a fine of nearly 900,000 kronor (93,000 euros, $102,000), Johansson added.

The government wants the new measures to take effect on March 1 next year.

The Swedish Migration Agency estimates that around 33,000 people who have been denied a residency permit will continue to stay illegally in Sweden between 2017 and 2019.

By the end of 2016, Swedish police were looking for more than 12,000 undocumented migrants. Search notices are valid for four years, after which it's possible to reapply for a residency permit.

Akilov has confessed to driving the stolen truck that mowed down pedestrians on a busy shopping street in Stockholm on April 7, killing four people and injuring 15 others.

Although no terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack, its method resembled that used in Nice, Berlin and London.

Swedish authorities said Akilov is known to have shown sympathies for jihadists groups, including the Islamic State (IS).