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5 suspected of Thai berry pickers human trafficking case

Published : 29 Nov 2023, 01:11

  DF Report
DF File Photo.

The police suspect five people of a major human trafficking case of Thai berry pickers who worked in Finland in 2020-2022, said police in a press release on TUresday.

The police concluded an extensive criminal investigation into the case concerning Thai berry pickers who worked in Finland and are believed to have become victims of human trafficking.

National Bureau of Investigation has conducted investigation into an extensive case of human trafficking in cooperation with the Border Guard and Helsinki, Western Uusimaa and Lapland Police Departments.

The police believe that Thai berry pickers who worked in Finland have become victims of human trafficking between 2020–2022.

In the criminal investigation, activities of individuals associated with two Finnish berry companies and one Thai company were explored for the suspicion of aggravated human trafficking.

At an early stage of investigation, the police remanded two people. Both of them were released later.

In the investigation, about 170 victims who had been picking wild berries in Finland were reached. The investigation continues in Thailand for finding the victims and interviewing them.

“The criminal investigation expanded as it went on and ended in a very large case. There are possibly about 2,000 victims, mainly in Thailand. Cooperation with Thai authorities has been excellent,” said Teemu Mäntyniemi, Head of Investigation, Detective Superintendent of the National Bureau of Investigation.

The human trafficking case has been transferred to the consideration of charges to the Prosecution District of Northern Finland.

Based on certain facts, at the beginning of the investigation into this case the police suspected a Senior Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of acceptance of a bribe.

“National Bureau of Investigation has now concluded criminal investigation into an aggravated acceptance of a bribe, abuse of public office and aggravated giving of a bribe. There were two suspects. The criminal investigation established the benefits the official had asked for and if these benefits could possibly have had an effect on the activities of authorities, including law drafting. The case will soon be transferred to consideration of charges to the Office of the Prosecutor General,” said Head of Investigation, Senior Detective Superintendent Maria Vuorivirta.

In October 2022, the Helsinki District Court on Sunday remanded a high-ranking government official into custody for his alleged involvement in an incident of suspected human trafficking of Thai berry pickers working in Finland.

Earlier, on October 1, the Oulu District Court remanded two persons on possible cause of the human trafficking incident.