Swedish doc free from child porn charges due to slow probe

A Swedish doctor who was found to possess 300 films and 250,000 images containing child pornography is set to go free after the drawn out investigation into his crimes exceeded the statute of limitations making his offence null and void.

“It is such gratifying news,” the doctor told newspaper Metro after hearing that the case would be dropped.

Police had been investigating the doctor since 2005, upon the discovery of the vast amount of child porn material on his computer.

The doctor’s extensive child porn holdings were uncovered in a massive raid carried out in 2004 dubbed “Operation Sleipner” which targeted 120 people suspected of possessing or distributing child porn.

At first, the doctor was suspected of aggravated child pornography crimes.

But because there was so much evidence to go through, it wasn’t until this year that police were able to determine that the doctor had not shared the material further or showed any indication of planning to do so.

Without the intent to spread the images of child pornography further, the doctor could only be charged with a minor child porn offences, which in turn carry a statute of limitations of five years instead of ten.

As a result of the the crime being downgraded, prosecutors had no choice but to drop the case.

This is not the first time that the period for prosecution of a similar crime is expired due to a lengthy investigation.

Local paper Västerbottenkuriren reported in April about an investigation into child pornography crimes which dragged out more than five years because of the copious amount of material stored on two discs confiscated by police.

When the case was finally handed over to prosecution it was too late and the charges where dropped.

Björn Sellström from Sweden’s National Bureau of Investigation (Rikscriminalpolisen) expressed his regret over the lengthy investigation into the doctor’s child porn holdings.

“It would certainly be possible to argue that the investigation should have been quicker to determine whether this was an aggravated crime or not and thereby kept an eye on the statute of limitations,” he told Metro.

The doctor has denied all charges since the beginning of the investigation.

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.