A Swedish court has convicted a man of rape for forcing young teenagers to perform sex acts online, marking a landmark conviction for the country.
The Uppsala City Court found Bjorn Samstrom, 41, guilty of online sexual offences against 27 children in Canada, Britain and the United States between 2015 and early 2017. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
He had threatened to post photos of the 26 girls and one boy—all under the age of 15 at the time—on porn sites or kill their relatives if they didn’t perform sexual acts for him to watch from his home in Sweden via webcam, the court heard.
The verdict on Thursday (November 30) marked the first time that a person was convicted of rape in Sweden for sexual assaults that took place over the internet.
Under Swedish law, rape doesn’t have to involve physical intercourse. It can also be defined as another act that is equally violating.
According to official data, 17,300 violent sexual offences were reported in Sweden in 2015, making the countries with the highest rate of sex crimes in the EU.
Sweden's National Council for Crime Prevention has said there was a rise in reported sex offences in the decade leading up to 2015 because of tougher legislation introduced in 2005 and 2013.
Changes included classifying certain acts of sexual exploitation as rape, as well as cases where "the victim reacts passively”.