Manga expert of child porn acquitted

Posted at 06/15/2012 4:09 PM | Updated as of 06/15/2012 7:07 PM

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Sweden's highest court on Friday acquitted a Swedish expert and translator of Japanese manga comics of possession of child porn, saying the fantasy figures cannot be put on a par with real children.

"To criminalise possession of the drawings would go beyond what is necessary ... for the limitations on freedom of expression and information," the Supreme Court ruled.

The court found that the drawings were pornographic, and that they did portray children.

"But these are fantasy figures that cannot be mistaken for real children," it said.

Simon Lundstroem, described by Swedish media as a top manga expert, told news agency TT he was "very relieved" by the acquittal.

He was found guilty by two lower courts of having 39 drawings portraying figures in sexual poses stocked on his hard drives.

A district court had fined him 25,000 kronor (2,750 euros, $3,500) but an appeals court lowered the sum to 5,600 kronor.

Lundstroem's lawyers had argued that the drawings, seized during a police search of his home, did not portray real children, and a comic book expert testified that the manga pictures did not necessarily portray children at all.

"In Japan, the ideals are different, the culture is different," Fredrik Stroemberg said, noting the Japanese fondness for "kawaii", or cuteness.

"Many figures in comics look smaller and younger, but they are not necessarily children," he said.

Manga are graphic novels that deal with themes from high school romance to literary classics, but also with pornography, some of it extreme and violent.

In 2010, the city of Tokyo restricted the sale of manga comics and animated films with extreme depictions of rape, incest and other sex crimes.

Swedish police engaged in the fight against child pornography have criticised the case.

"Children who are subjected to abuse shouldn't be put on a par with fantasy drawings," Bjoern Sellstroem, the head of the national police's child pornography crime unit, told TT recently.

He said police had enough work tracking down perpetrators.

"We already have an enormous amount of pictures to go through. Drawings are not uncommon and that would take time away from the work to help children who are in trouble," he said.

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