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Police caught in child porn bust

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00:00 CEST+02:00
On Tuesday Swedish police - along with their Finnish, Norwegian and Danish counterparts - carried out dawn raids in a coordinated operation against suspected paedophiles.

Over 300 officers took part in the raids across the country and at least 100 people were taken into custody, accused of buying and possessing child pornography. A number of those arrested have already admitted to the charges.

Computers, CDs and videotapes were seized and police say that their initial analysis shows that the pornographic images are relatively new - probably taken in the last 2-3 years. Most are thought to have been bought on foreign web sites.

Annette Ahlenius, a police spokesman, told Wednesday's Dagens Nyheter that the operation had been many months in the planning and that coordination was the key.

"It was kept secret so we could find evidence," she said. "We know that when you strike against this group in just one place, the news spreads quickly and others try to remove the evidence."

DN reported that the majority of suspects had been tracked down after having used their credit cards on child pronography sites, and Svenska Dagbladet provided more detail of the locations that had been targeted. Twenty-one suspects were picked up in Skåne, while Stockholm police took twenty into custody. The operation also covered Gothenburg, Uppsala, Trollhättan and seven smaller towns across the country.

Penalties for child pornography offences range from fines to a maximum of two years imprisonment, but if the classification is raised to 'serious child pornography offences' then those convicted could face four years in jail.

The police may consider the operation a success, but any satisfaction was tempered by the fact that three of those arrested in Stockholm were police officers - which understandably earned almost as much press coverage as the raids themselves.

"It is a huge tragedy and we completely understand the public concerns that this sort of thing raises about the police," Elisabeth Zaar, the information officer for Stockholm Police, told DN.

"Unfortunately this is a problem at every level of society," she continued. "The police aren't immune to it either."

And that's not the only thing they're not immune to, as readers of Monday's Aftonbladet will be aware. The paper reported that Leif Jennekvist, Stockholm's police commissioner, has been questioned in connection with the Eskilstuna police superintendent who is in custody awaiting trial for drugs and and weapons offences.

According to Aftonbladet's sources, Jennekvist - who was in charge of the Anna Lindh murder case - is suspected of a 'serious breach of duty'. It's not clear what that that might be, and the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Peter Hertting, didn't give much away.

"I'm investigating allegations against senior figures in Stockholm's police department," he said.

What is known, however, is that the Eskilstuna superintendent helped Jennekvist - and others - to find apartments some time last year.

"My investigation has nothing to do with that," said Hertting. "My job is to examine to what extent the superintendent's actions were approved of by the management in Stockholm's police department."

When asked if Jennekvist was among them, he said: "I can't comment on that. But I can confirm that he is being questioned. You can draw your own conclusions."

So with a big picture of Leif Jennekvist beside the words "serious breach of duty", that's just what Aftonbladet did.

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