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Supreme Court mulls manga child porn appeal

Supreme Court mulls manga child porn appeal

Published: 16 May 2012 17:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 May 2012 17:12 GMT+02:00

The highly publicized last appeal of Simon Lundström, a Swedish translator of Japanese manga comics convicted of child pornography crimes, was brought up in Sweden’s Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen) on Wednesday.

“To me personally this might mean that I am finally cleared. For me as an intelligent human being it would be very interesting to see this absurd law finally being tested in the highest instance,” said Lundström to news agency TT before the negotiations started.

The auditorium was filled to the rafters and several expert witnesses were heard when the final appeal of the case was made.

“These are not real people. The prosecution has a tendency to view these drawings as camouflaged photos, but these are animated fantasies," said one of the expert witnesses, Johan Höjer, a researcher in comics from the University of Gävle.

Höjer also said that it is not unusual that erotic drawings come up when doing a Google search for manga.

Lundström, described by Swedish media as a top manga expert, was found guilty by two lower courts of having 39 drawings portraying figures in sexual poses stored on the hard drive of his computer.

A district court fined him 25,000 kronor ($3,500) but an appeals court lowered the sum to 5,600 kronor.

Lundström's lawyer Leif Silbersky told Swedish news agency TT during a break in proceedings on Wednesday that "this whole case has grown to unreasonable proportions. This is not a crime. This is research."

But according to Hedvig Trost of the prosecution, it can be hard to draw a line between what is an animation and what is a photograph.

“The ban is there to protect children in general, whether it is real children depicted or not,” she said in court.

The images that the man has been convicted of possessing were shown on large screens in the courtroom. The pastel-coloured pictures showed children in different states of undress.

The depicted persons have large eyes and many other features that are characteristic for manga-characters. They are both posing for the viewer and taking part in different sexual activities.

“The images also show children whose genitals are exposed in a sexual way,” Trost said.

Fredrik Strömberg, chairman of the cartoon association Seriefrämjandet and editor of the comic book Bild och Bubbla, tried to give the court a different interpretation of the 39 drawings.

Strömberg, who has studied manga for over ten years, described one of the images, a character with an enlarged head and large eyes.

“With a western eye the body looks as if the person is very young. But you have to keep in mind that in Japan, the ideals are different; the culture is different,” he said, mentioning the Japanese expression “kawaii”, which means sweet or cute.

“In Japan, kawaii is something that permeates all of society. It is reflected in many characters in comics seem smaller and younger, but it doesn’t mean that they are children,” he told the court.

But Trost argued that the images could be used to coerce children into taking part in sexual activities. She questioned the motive for the man possessing the images, which he has claimed was for work purposes, and stressed that the man wasn’t working on translating the images in question.

“And even a drawing could be of a real child. A photo depicting a real child could have been used to make the drawing. It is hard from the outside to know whether there is an original photo or not,” she said in closing.

The hearing was concluded shortly after 1pm on Wednesday and the verdict will be given “in a few weeks”, according to the court.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:26 May 16, 2012 by NataBee
Jesus! How idiotic and ignorant these people are. There are millions of people are fans to Manga which has been around for hundreds of years, and they are all pedos and peverted kids then?! Lacking of knowledge of different cultures would lead to this stupidity!
20:15 May 16, 2012 by jan.petras
Retards don't have anything better to do. Manga is awesome, its not children, and even if it is, it's a drawing.

The ban on child porn is there to protect children, you're not prote... this is retarded.
21:22 May 16, 2012 by LL2423
This law does absolutely nothing to protect children. Its only purpose is to limit cultural expression and mindlessly judge people with "different" subjective interests.

If we put the same priority into arresting people like Simon as we do towards arresting actual pedophiles, guess who will suffer as a result? Real, non-fictional children. And that's terrible.
23:35 May 16, 2012 by Swedishmyth
"And even a drawing could be of a real child. A photo depicting a real child could have been used to make the drawing."

What is the charge, here? If it is the production of child pornography, would the prosecution kindly show that the crime has actually taken place?

Or is freedom of speech a matter of license rather than right? I understand that the supposed protection of free speech offered as a so-called "human right" in Europe appears rather similar to the First Amendment of the US Constitution, but it sure doesn't function much like it.
00:41 May 17, 2012 by danfrov
Her is a link to Wikipedia about this.

Sweden can not be the worlds Police.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manga

DanFrov

Aberdeen Scottland
09:47 May 17, 2012 by Kevin Harris
"And even a drawing could be of a real child. A photo depicting a real child could have been used to make the drawing."

What child? Where? When?

There was a time when Swedish prosecutors had to prove a crime had been committed. Now it seems all the prosecutor has to do is suggest that a crime "could have" been committed.

Does anyone else find this a bit scary?
10:17 May 17, 2012 by xdrfv
Interesting to see how they will legally define the difference between these childporn-ish manga pictures and masterpiece paintings with naked babies and kids.
11:39 May 17, 2012 by Dr. Dillner
Soon, if you even *think* about naked children you will be jailed.
13:00 May 17, 2012 by jackjones
Does this mean that people who watch crime dramas are "interested" in actually robbing banks? If you watch war films, does that make you a genocidal maniac? Of course not.

People should learn to differentiate fantasy from reality... kids learn how to, when they are about 2 years old, you would think adults would know better..
16:12 May 17, 2012 by dizzy09
"And even a drawing could be of a real child. A photo depicting a real child could have been used to make the drawing. It is hard from the outside to know whether there is an original photo or not," it obvious the "persecution" doesn´t know a thing about drawing, lots of artists can draw from imagination...and while they are at it an international arrest warrants should also be issued for the arrest of the japanese artists.
16:17 May 17, 2012 by AdamVikingen
For anyone who supports Lundström, join this group!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/R%C3%A4dda-Simon-Lundstr%C3%B6m/117138675036870
17:01 May 18, 2012 by tadchem
In the US our Supreme Court has ruled that creating artwork that depicts a crime is not a crime. If it was, then the works of Shakespeare himself would all be illegal.
09:50 May 19, 2012 by EagleOwl
"the images could be used to". What a gloriously intelligent line of reasoning from a prosecutor in a supreme court case. "He might just do this, so let's sentence him for it already and save us the trouble of waiting for it".

Yes, a gun "could be used to" shoot that neighbour that you don't like and therefore creating fantasies about carrying out the crime in your head.

Yes, a knife in your kitchen drawer "could be used to" stab your spouse and therefore creating fantasies about carrying out that crime as well.

If we're supposed to put a ban on anything that could "stimulate" a criminal thought, we'd live in completely empty houses, or even no houses at all.

Of course child abuse in any form is horrible, but are people really suggesting that it's worse than murder now? That one traumatizing event in childhood is supposed to somehow outrank snuffing out an entire life permanently? I don't know about the prosecutor but I'd personally much rather have been sexually abused as a child than be killed off today. So if we're going to be fair, let's ban any and all household items that could even potentially be used as a weapon if it's all really just about "preventing crime".

Am I the only one who feels this is just one step away from the "whipping police" of certain middle eastern countries who go around punishing you if you seem "too immoral"? It's one thing that we don't really have any true literal freedom of speech, but are we now moving toward a society where we don't even have the freedom of thought anymore?

Let people entertain whatever fantasies they want in their own heads and stick to prosecuting crimes committed against living breathing people that actually have a victim of some sort, because otherwise if you're just going to punish any naughty immoral thoughts you come across, you might as well just jail the entire 6 billion humans on the planet. Because no matter what individual self-righteous hypocrites may claim, there isn't a single one of us that's perfectly holy and pure and void of any "perverted fantasies" - certainly not any of the people defending this absurd law on this forum, and not even prosecutor Trost herself.
10:32 May 22, 2012 by skylarkpilot
Well I believe it's all been said above, and just for once not one word from anyone defending this ludicrous situation.

There are many many things I truly admire about Sweden, their legal system is not one of them.
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