STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A man was jailed for 10 years for rape by a Swedish court on Thursday for forcing 27 children from the United States, Canada and Britain to perform sex acts on themselves or with other children that he viewed over the internet.
The case, heard in Uppsala, marked the first time in Sweden that a person has been convicted of rape without having met the victim - setting a precedent for such crimes over the internet to be treated as seriously as if they were committed in person.
"The district court makes a very important assessment here. It states clearly what is required for an act performed by a girl on her own body to be regarded as rape when the perpetrator is not in the same room," prosecutor Annika Wennerstrom told TT news agency.
"This may lead to a different level of priority and status from the police in criminal investigations with these types of crimes."
The 41-year-old Swede found the girls via social media and threatened to rape them and kill their families unless they committed the sex acts on themselves, on other children or with animals.
The children, most under the age of 15, either streamed the acts to the man over the internet or recorded them and sent them later.
The man was also sentenced for a large number of acts of online sexual abuse of children and child pornography.
As a result of this case, Wennerstrom said the means of investigation and the penalties could change.
"We will be given the opportunity to use other types of methods with this legal classification, penalties will be longer and the chances for compensation for victims will increase," she said.
(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Simon Johnson and Alison Williams)