A Philippine appeals court dismissed the appeal of Swedes Stefan Sederholm, 33, and Andrew Solemo, 37, with a request for a new trial. They are now sentenced to several years in prison before the Supreme Court hears the case.
The Swedes were sentenced to life imprisonment on May 10, 2011, convicted of trafficking.
Sederholm and Solemo had started with three Filipino citizens a so-called cyber-brothel with operations in an industrial park outside the town of Cagayan de Oro.
Operations began in early 2009. About 20 Filipino women have been hired to pose nude and masturbate in front of webcams with clients paying to watch around the world. Clients were buying time with women and expressing their desire for sexual activity. Women were paid around SEK 2,500 per month, equivalent to the salary of a regular clerical job in the Philippines.
As of April 23, 2009, the police raided the company and three Filipino men were arrested. The Swedes were arrested when they arrived by plane in the Philippines on the same day. This type of online sex service is not illegal in the Philippines, but when police raided the cyber brothel, one of the women claimed she was posing for the camera against her will.
Arrested in May 2009, now accused of human trafficking, the two Swedes were imprisoned in the infamous Lumbia prison. The trial against the Swedes and the three Filipinos began in February 2011. The sentence was passed on May 10 of the same year: life imprisonment for Andreas Solemo and Stefan Sederholm. The three Filipino citizens were sentenced to 20 years in prison. The two Swedes have since been transferred to Davao penal colony
The Swedes have now turned to the Swedish Foreign Ministry with a request for financial assistance in order to secure a new lawyer.
The dismissed request for a new trial will be appealed to the Supreme Court of the Philippines. A process that takes several years. Meanwhile, Solemo and Sederholm remain in Davao Penal Colony.
Andreas Solemo and Stefan Sederholm see themselves as the victims of a political verdict and see harsh punishment as a way for the Philippines to lead by example, showing that they are speaking out harshly against human trafficking.
“The worst part is that we are convicted of a terrible crime, which is very far from the truth. Now we are sitting here for life and frankly I find it hard to see that they will ever release us, ”Stefan Sederholm told TV4’s Kalla Fakta last year.
If the Swedes fail in their appeal, they will be forced to spend between 20 and 30 years in prison before they can be pardoned.