A court in Salo has acquitted a group of animal activists who had shot videotape showing poor conditions at a pig farm of all charges of aggravated defamation.
One defendant, Karry Hedberg, who was considered by the prosecution to be the main defendant, was given a 20-day suspended sentence for disturbing the public peace.
In its Tuesday ruling the court found that the aim of the defendants was to raise critical debate on the conditions in which pigs are kept in Finland. With that in mind, they had recorded material which was disadvantageous from the point of view of the owners of the piggeries.
As it had not been asserted that the recordings had been doctored in any way, the court found that selective use of camera angles could not be seen to constitute false or suggestive information.
In the view of the court, freedom of speech needs to be considered, even though the pig farms were depicted in a negative light in interviews with Hedberg and his partner Saila Kivelä on the web pages of the Oikeutta eläimille (“Justice for Animals”) organisation.
Hedberg’s conviction for disturbing the public peace stems from the fact that at one farm in the Ostrobothnia region, the activists had entered the premises through the front yard of the home of the owner.
The court rejected the plaintiffs’ demands for more than EUR 150,000 in monetary restitution.