Four women were convicted of slander by the Helsinki District Court on Friday over a series of social media posts they made about the Finnish vocalist Tomi Metsäketo.
All four defendants were sentenced to pay 25-day fines amounting to between 150 and 675 euros, depending on their salaries. The court also ordered the women to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees, which amounted to some 7,400 euros.
Last autumn, Metsäketo was referred to by the women as a “serial molester” and a rapist in social media comments on Twitter and Facebook.
Court: #metoo important
The female defendants all denied committing any crimes and said that they had reason to believe that the claims, which had been made elsewhere on the platforms, were true. Some of the allegations were also related to the ongoing #metoo debate about widespread sexual harassment.
In its ruling, the court noted that on a general level, the #metoo discourse has been important. However it ruled that in this case the defendants had breached the limits of protection afforded by freedom of speech. It added that they had crossed that line when they implied that Metsäketo was guilty of criminal activity.
The sexual harassment allegations emerged when Metsäketo was removed from the Finnish talent show TV series, “Tähdet, Tähdet”. He was also axed from a local stage production of the hit musical “Mamma Mia”.