Finn got 10 years for criminal HIV transmission

A 25 year-old Finnish man, who is HIV-positive, has been sentenced to ten years in prison for five counts of criminal HIV transmission, 14 counts of attempted criminal HIV exposure, and one count of rape.

Protect yourself to stay uninfected.
Protect yourself to stay uninfected.

Aki Hakkarainen was arrested in October 2007 after a number of women had complained to the police. He had previously received a 21 month conditional sentence for "a similar offence."

The Rovaniemi District Court says it found Aki Hakkarainen guilty of five counts of aggravated assault and having unprotected sex with 14 others. Although he knew he was infected he did not inform his sexual partners about his condition. The court decided that the 25-year-old Hakkarainen must pay €300,000 (US$440,000) to the five victims who contracted the virus.

In England and Wales, where prosecutions for reckless HIV transmission have been taking place since 2003, the HIV sector persuaded the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consult on the production of Legal Guidance for CPS prosecutors and caseworkers in this area of law, as well as an accompanying Policy Statement.

Yuzuf Azad of the National Aids Trust discussed the in a recent publication in HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network that the process has resulted in a much higher burden of proof of transmission and guilt:

„What they (the CPS) could do — and what they did do — was consider in greater depth, and on the basis of detailed evidence, what is required to prove responsibility for infection, knowledge, recklessness and appropriate use of safeguards. An informed understanding of these elements has, even in the context of current criminal law, resulted in fewer and fairer prosecutions.

... It was not without its risks. Success was due to a number of factors, not least of which was a CPS that was already committed to taking seriously the concerns and experiences of affected communities when considering prosecutions in socially sensitive areas of law.

The process was helped immensely by the commitment from an extraordinarily wide range of partners within the HIV sector, encompassing NGOs, academics, clinicians, virologists and, above all, people living with HIV.

Since then, three cases have been dismissed by a judge in pretrial hearings. These prosecutions all failed because the solicitor successfully argued that the CPS failed to provide uneqivocal proof that the defendant, and only the defendant, could have, in fact, infected the complainant(s).


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