October 12, 2018 / 5:22 PM / 3 days ago

Nobel literature award body asks scandal-hit member to quit

STOCKHOLM, Oct 12 (Reuters) - The body that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature has asked the wife of the man at the centre of a rape scandal to quit the Swedish Academy as it tries to rebuild its reputation, a member said on Friday.

This year’s prize-giving was cancelled after several academy members quit or withdrew from their work in protest over the handling of an investigation last year into allegations against member Katarina Frostenson and her husband Jean-Claude Arnault.

Arnault was sentenced this month to two years in prison for rape. He denied all accusations and is appealing the verdict.

Some academy members have accused Frostenson of shielding her husband. Swedish media have also alledged she leaked the names of literature prize winners to Arnault before they were announced. Arnault has denied that. Frostenson has not commented publicly and did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

“The academy has unanimously agreed to a resolution begging her to voluntarily withdraw from the academy,” the body’s Permanent Secretary Anders Olsson told Reuters.

“If this should not occur, we will start a new, impartial investigation of Frostenson’s alleged transgressions of our statues, giving her a fair chance to defend her cause ... This is the second part of the resolution.”

Olsson said Frostenson had not been given this chance during the last investigation, which the academy had also found to be unsatisfactory.

There have been previous calls for Frostenson, who has been refraining from participating in academy tasks, to resign, but she has not indicated any intention to do so.

Nobel Foundation CEO Lars Heikensten told Reuters last month it could drop the academy from awarding the literature prize if it did not make further changes in the wake of the scandal.

Last week, the academy named two new members. (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Stockholm Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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