Five men have been arrested in Finland for sexually abusing children and then distributing films online. They also received films from other child sexual abuse networks in 17 Western countries.
Finnish investigators announced on Wednesday that they have uncovered a child sexual abuse ring with links to 17 Western countries. Chief Investigator Sanna Springare did not say what other countries were involved, only that several were European.
She also cited the need to protect victims' privacy as she declined to give details as to where the crimes took place. Though she did not name the perpetrators, she said that the ringleader held "a prominent position in society."
Springare did, however, outline the abuses, saying that the five men arrested had filmed the violent, repeated rape of six male victims, aged six to 15, over the course of 14 years.
The crimes, perpetrated between 2004 and 2018, were carried out on the boys while they were sedated.
International child sexual abuse network
Springare said, "The mildest form of abuse that took place in Finland was showing adult pornography to a [child] victim and the worst was raping a drugged child for 10 hours."
The perpetrators distributed videos and at times streamed their crimes live to other online child sexual abuse rings in exchange for films that those rings had produced.
Police report they seized over 400 hours of such material from the ringleader's home.
Investigators say the men received and redistributed material from foreign groups, including at least one in which the victim was killed while being abused.
Wide range of abuses
Police began their investigation after a tip from foreign investigators. They are now investigating a range of crimes involving child sexual abuse, aggravated rape, possession and distribution of pornographic images of children and illegal drug possession.
Police will turn the case over to prosecutors who will weigh bringing some 22 charges involving 70 offenses. Investigators have said that the statute of limitations may apply to some of the crimes.
Last month, Finland's parliament passed an amendment to Chapter 20 of its criminal code, raising the maximum sentence for sexual abuse of a child from four, to six years. It also added a new crime of aggravated rape of a child — a combination of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual abuse of a child — which carries a minimum sentence of four years in prison and a maximum of 12.