2 Swedes Get Life Sentences for Philippines Internet Porn
MANILA — Two Swedish men and three Filipino accomplices have been sentenced to jail for running a live webcam operation that catered to foreigners from a southern Phillipines city.
According to reports, the unprecedented convictions were the first legal victory in the battle against foreign-operated porn operations in the Philippines.
A court in the southern Philippines found the two Swedish nationals, Bo Stefan Sederholm, 31, and Emil Andreas Solemo, 35, guilty of trafficking charges and sentenced them to life in prison. They were also fined $46,000 each.
The Swedish embassy in Bangkok, which oversees the Swedish consulate in Manila, confirmed the court ruling and said, "We learned that they have been convicted and sentenced to life in prison.”
The three Filipinos were each given 20-year jail sentences and fined about $23,000 each.
Also sentenced in absentia were Abdul Barry Usman Imam, Yusoph Mama, Jr., and a third man, whose identity remained unknown, according to reports.
The Swedes were first arrested when police raided a commercial building in the town of Kauswagan, Mindanao, in April 2009.
Justo Yap, National Bureau of Investigation regional director said 18 women, aged 19 to 24, some of whom were naked and sending live feeds to clients abroad, were rescued after a raid on the premises.
The performers were reportedly paid $350 a month.
Law enforcement agencies said providing sexually explicit material over the Internet is a growing industry in the Philippines where the perception is low risk and high returns. All Internet sex is classified as pornography and therefore illegal in the Philippines.
But what concerns authorities is the number of girls who are trafficked into the web “cybersex dens,” many of whom they said are well under the age of 18.
The judge in the case, Jeoffre Acebido stressed the need to protect Filipino women and said in his ruling, "Disrespect for Filipino women and violations of our laws deserve the strongest condemnations from this court.
"It will not shirk from its duty to impose the most severe of penalties against anybody, be he a foreign national or a citizen of this country, who tramples upon the dignity of a woman by taking advantage of her vulnerability."
Lalae Garcia of the women and children’s rights movement said, "This is definitely a major victory for abused and exploited women."