Finland’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by prosecutors to convict a 23-year-old asylum seeker who had sex with a 10-year-old of aggravated rape, ruling she was not forced.
The unnamed migrant, who was 20-year-old at the time of the attacks, was convicted of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and handed a light three-year sentence by a district court, with an additional charge of aggravated rape being thrown out, reports Yleisradio Oy (Yle), Finland’s public broadcaster.
The decision baffled prosecutors and caused outrage among members of the public, but was upheld by an appeal court, which agreed there was “no evidence to indicate that the sexual encounter involved violence or that the child was overcome by fear or incapacitated in any other way”, according to Yle.
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The ruling resulted in what Yle describes as a “spirited public debate”, with Turku University’s Jussi Tapani and Matti Tolvanen of the University of Eastern Finland, both professors of criminal law, taking the judiciary to task in the national press.
Tuula Tamminen, Professor of Child Psychiatry at the University of Tampere, told the press there was no way the 10-year-old victim could have really understood what was happening to them.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the district court and the appeal court, and the migrant’s short sentence will not be increased.
Kari Tolvanen MP, who chairs the Law Committee in the Finnish parliament, has said the case shows the criminal law dealing with aggravated sexual abuse of a child needs to be amended, and claimed he supports longer sentences for such offences.
“The amendment would introduce harsher sentences for serious sexual offences against children overall. In my view that is fully justified, for example in light of a child’s vulnerability, even if the act does not meet the threshold for rape,” Tolvanen added.