In December 2009, Finnish media outlets stunned the nation by publishing disturbing video and photographs from inside 30 pig factory farms, the result of a two-month undercover investigation by the leading Finnish animal rights group, Justice for Animals. You can see the images and videos here.
A court in Salo, Finland has acquitted a group of animal activists affiliated with Justice for Animals who recorded the video footage depicting cruel conditions at pig farms of all charges of “aggravated defamation.”
The main defendant, Karry Hedberg, was given a 20-day suspended sentence for disturbing the public peace and was acquitted on all other charges. 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 raised in Finland. Since the evidence submitted to the court did not in any way prove that the video had been edited in any misleading manner, 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 cast in a critical light in interviews with Hedberg and his partner Saila Kivelä on the Justice for Animals web site (Oikeutta eläimille).
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 damages.