Court of Appeal reduces sentences in paedophile ring case

The defendants were charged with sexually abusing two children in 2007.

Helsingin hovioikeus päätyi lieventämään Länsi-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeuden antamaa tuomiota. Image: Nella Nuora / Yle

The Helsinki Court of Appeal has reduced the sentences of two men accused of sexually abusing children in 2007.

The District Court of Western Uusimaa had previously charged the defendants, aged 61 and 51, with aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and sentenced them to an unconditional imprisonment term of one year and eight months.

The charge has now been lessened to sexual abuse of a child, and the defendants' sentences have subsequently been reduced to conditional imprisonment of one year and four months and one year and two months, respectively.

Conditional imprisonment means the defendants are entitled to a probationary period of at least one year (three years at the most) during which the imprisonment is postponed.

The court can enforce imprisonment if the defendants commit a new offence during the probationary period.

The case is part of a larger investigation involving a paedophile ring that targeted a total of six male victims aged five to 15 in Finland. The crimes took place between 2004 and 2014.

The case has been primarily handled by courts in Southern Ostrobothnia as most of the victims and suspects are from the region.

Not "aggravated" sexual abuse

The men were accused of sexually exploiting two minors who were six at the time, while photographing the acts. The District Court held that the crimes constituted aggravated sexual abuse.

Following a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the acts committed by the defendants do not fall under the bracket of "aggravated" as defined by the law.

While it found the defendants guilty on two charges of child sexual abuse, it held that the crimes were a one-off incident and the defendants stopped of their own accord.

The Court of Appeal did not reverse the District's Court's ruling on damages.

One of the perpetrators in this case was a key member of an extensive international paedophile ring that operated in nearly 20 countries.

He has also received a sentence of seven years and 10 months in prison for aggravated sexual abuse of a child, aggravated rape and possession and distribution of child sexual abuse images, as well as other charges.