Berry farm owner convicted of human trafficking
20 Jan 2018, 00:25 ( 20 Jan, 2018) | updated: 20 Jan 2018, 10:33 ( 20 Jan, 2018)
A court on Friday sentenced the owner of a berry company to 20-month suspended imprisonment on various charges including human trafficking, fraud and violations of waste management laws, national broadcaster Yle reported.
The central Finland district court awarded the punishment as the allegations of trafficking 26 Thai berry pickers brought against the farm owner were proved beyond doubt.
The court also ordered the convict to pay more than 300,000 euros in damages and legal costs, said the report.
According to the case, the Thai berry pickers had to work 15-hour days and the company owner took a major portion of the earnings of the berry pickers saying that the amount was adjusted with their travel costs to Finland.
The court also imposed ban on holding the post of company director by the convict for three years.
The lawyer of the convict, however, said that they would go to the higher court against the verdict.
Berry pickers in Finland have been legally regarded as entrepreneurs, and therefore outside the purview of sector-based labour agreements, said the Yle report.