Diplomat and father cleared of car boot boy smuggle

Both a father and a diplomat have been cleared of all criminal charges relating to the smuggling of a boy from Russia to Finland in the boot of a car. Paavo Salonen secured help from Finnish Consulate worker Simo Pietilainen in retrieving his son Anton from his Russian mother, who was keeping him in her homeland in contravention of a court order for joint custody.

Salonen took the boy from his mother in May 2009 in the city of Balahna before he was driven across the border to Finland in the boot of Pietilinen’s car. Deputy Prosecutor-general Jorma Kalske has however decided not to press charges against either of the men.

Kalske concluded that Pietilainen had “humanitarian reasons” for his actions, despite the fact that he had gone beyond his official duties. He also cleared Salonen of taking a child without authorisation, as he noted that the father had enlisted a Russian lawyer and followed instructions given by Russian officials.

Finally, the prosecutor concluded that although the way Anton came into Finland was a violation of national borders, it was such a minor incident that it did not merit charges being brought. The Russian Foreign Ministry has denounced the decision, claiming Pietilainen violated both Russian and Finnish laws, as well as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.