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Animal rights activists cleared of pig-farm video charges

Nearly all charges have been dropped against animal rights activists who secretly filmed cases of neglect at pork farms.

Silmävammainen porsas
One of the milder images published by Oikeutta Eläimille. Image: Oikeutta eläimille

Turku Appeals Court on Friday dismissed all charges but one in the case of four people who published videos in 2009 showing disturbing conditions in pigsheds.

The court let stand one defendant’s suspended 20-day sentence for disturbing the public peace. That sentence was handed down by a lower court in 2011.

The prosecutor and some of the pork farmers had sought imprisonment and damages on charges of disturbing the peace and aggravated defamation.

The appeals court ruled that the appearance of two of the defendants in videos published on the website sikatehtaat.fi did not include false information or insinuation.

"No improvement in conditions"

The defendants are members of an NGO called Oikeutta eläimille ("Justice for Animals"), which on Friday applauded the ruling as a victory for freedom of speech.

“I think it is significant in many ways that our society does not condemn the publication of images that depict the conditions in which animals are kept,” said Saila Kivelä of Oikeutta eläimille in a statement.

“Our organisation has published pictures from more than 100 pig farms. There have not been any significant changes in the animals’ conditions. Pigs spend their entire lives in cramped concrete stalls without the chance for any sort of well-being,” adds Kivelä, who was one of the defendants.

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