Three employees of Swedish public broadcaster SVT have been convicted of people trafficking after they smuggled a 15-year-old Syrian boy into Sweden from Greece in 2014.
Swedish journalist Fredrik Önnevall, along with two other employees, of the public broadcaster, was convicted this week of people trafficking by a district court in Malmö. The trio has been sentenced to 75 hours of community service work by the judge in the case but the lawyer for the defendants has promised to appeal the verdict, Sveriges Radio reports.
Lennart Svensäter, Supreme Court president, said that he did not expect the three SVT employees to engage in people trafficking again, adding: “These are not criminals in the ordinary sense.”
Sveriges Radio notes that previously, a conviction for people trafficking would result in a three-month sentence – but that now judges are taking a “nuanced” approach to sentencing and that the sanctioning of imprisonment may be excluded in such circumstances.
Mr. Önnevall and his colleagues defended their actions saying that they were bringing the young Syrian to Sweden for humanitarian reasons.
“They passed several countries that they could seek asylum in. If there is a legal process [for claiming asylum] in the countries one passes, there is no humanitarian reason why one does not seek asylum in any of the other countries,” Svensäter said.
Önnevall’s lawyer Björn Benschöld said: “We believe that the court of appeal has not taken sufficient account of the circumstances we highlight in the court of law. It is primarily based on the humanitarian exemption.”
The conviction is just the latest scandal for the public broadcaster. In September, an SVT employee, who was described as being part of the management team, was caught attempting to “buy the virginity” of a 14-year-old girl online.
The girl turned out to be Swedish investigative journalist Lisah Silfwer who produces the television programme Crime Centre.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 3, 2016
High profile figures elsewhere in Europe have also been accused of smuggling migrants into their countries. Earlier this month, Swiss politician Lisa Bosia Mirra, a councillor for the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, was accused of smuggling 24 African migrants into the country.
Ms. Mirra was also found guilty of human trafficking and given a suspended two-year sentence and a fine of £7,000. She also noted that she would appeal the verdict.