Police may have cracked porno ring

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Children’s advocates were praising police on Friday for launching coordinated raids this week in 14 different police districts in Norway and arresting 20 persons found to be in possession of child pornography. Meanwhile, in another case involving child abuse, state officials were being accused of dereliction of duty.

The child pornography involved mostly photos and videos featuring children as young as four- to five years old. Police made arrests all day long on Wednesday and into the night, after a man in his 60s had been arrested last week in Helgeland, north central Norway.

Most plead guilty
Police found material on his mobile telephone that led to the coordinated raids around the country. Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that most of the 15 to 20 persons arrested so far have admitted possession and/or distribution of pornographic material. All face prison terms up to three years.

“It’s good that the police have followed this up, and hold these persons liable,” Janne Raanes, of the child welfare group Redd Barna told Dagsavisen. “Now it’s just as important to find out who these children are and where they are.”

Police couldn’t immediately say whether the children found in the photos and videos were Norwegian. All are believed to be under the age of 18, most much younger.

Dereliction of duty
In another case, revealed by Trondheim newspaper Adresseavisen, state officials at the child protective agency Barnevernet were accused of failing to protect children placed in their care.

The newspaper went through court records from 2000 showing that 42 publicly appointed custodians for children who had been removed from their family homes also were convicted of abusing the children. In many cases  the children were beaten and sexually assaulted repeatedly by their foster parents, without Barnevernet discovering the abuse for many years.

A total of 52 children were subjected to abuse from those supposed to be taking care of them, and media coverage on Friday prompted widespread debate over the leniency of punishments handed out to those convicted. One foster father found guilty of sexually assaulting a mentally retarded 11-year-old girl placed in his care was sentenced to just 60 days in jail. Many of the convictions reveal that Norwegian judges discounted prison terms because the guilty parties admitted their crimes.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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