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23 Swedish women guilty in child porn case

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11:46 CEST+02:00
All 23 women on trial for possessing and distributing child pornography were convicted by a Swedish court on Tuesday, along with a 43-year-old man believed to be the mastermind behind the network.

The Falu District Court in central Sweden sentenced the 43-year-old Lars Skoglund from Borlänge to one year in prison for aggravated child pornography crimes.

The court handed the women, who are aged between 38 and 70, suspended sentences and ordered them to pay fines ranging from 2,500 kronor to 18,000 kronor ($375 to $2,691).

The verdict comes almost a year to the day that police conducted raids at several locations across the country, arresting more than 20 women.

The raids came following the arrest of Skoglund last September, who was in the possession of 1,181 still shots and 40 films featuring child pornography.

Skoglund then came in contact with the women via internet chat rooms and gradually convinced them to accept files containing child pornography.

The images and films depict children being raped in various ways by adults. In some instances, the children were tied up.

Internet chat messages sent between the women and Skoglund achieve with “good measure” the need to prove that the women chose to accept the images from Skoglund, the court found.

In assessing the severity of the crimes, the court also took into consideration that most of the women, while capable of taking responsibility for their actions, were nevertheless "psychologically unstable".

According to the court, Skoglund “took advantage of their poor mental states and desire for human contact”.

The women, several of whom had short-lived sexual relationships with Skoglund, did not have large quantities of the illicit material in their possession and thus were charged with lower level crimes.

The court added that, had the women never met Skoglund, most of them would have never come into contact with child pornography.

"If Lars Skoglund had not led their conversations onto the subject of child sex, most of these women would probably never have come into contact with child pornography," the court found.

Prosecutors had argued Skoglund should be sentenced to a year in prison and that the women should receive conditional sentences.

“I agree that there should be stiff penalties, but it's a question of judicial policy where the minimum level should be,” prosecutor Niclas Eltenius told the TT news agency before the verdict was announced.

The case has received a great deal of attention in Sweden and abroad because all but one of the defendants were women.

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