Finnish court trying human trafficking case involving Estonian, Latvian victims

  • 2023-07-29
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

HELSINKI - A court in Helsinki will rule Friday on a case involving suspected human trafficking in the construction industry, Finnish media outlets reported. 

According to the prosecutor, Estonian and Latvian nationals were essentially used as forced labor in Finland and, among other things, were attacked when they demanded pay.

"The victim was attacked when he demanded pay from company representatives. The purpose of the abuse was to intimidate the victim and other workers who lived in the same apartment to give up their demands for pay and submit to their employers' will," one of the charges reads.

According to the Central Criminal Police, the suspected criminal gang recruited hundreds of workers from abroad between 2020 and 2022. In the case handled by the Helsinki court, 11 people are victims of brutal human trafficking.

The prosecutor is seeking non-suspended prison sentences for several of the defendants. The defendants have denied the crimes.

According to the prosecutor, the victims were promised work and free accommodation in Finland, but most of their wages were not paid and money was collected from them for accommodation. The Central Criminal Police has previously said that many victims could not afford to return home but had to continue working even if they did not want to.

Besides, according to the charges, employees were registered as small business operators to evade employer's statutory payments. In this manner, the payment of some 2.3 million euros into pension insurance was avoided.

According to the prosecutor, the defendants committed the crimes as an organized criminal group and through companies they ran.

According to the police, some of the gang's leaders and background influencers are classified as participants in organized crime in Estonia. The Finnish construction companies where the victims worked are not suspected of crimes.