Finnish police probe church official

FINNISH police said today they were investigating an official of the Finnish Adventist Church on suspicion of sexually abusing children for more than 20 years.

"The suspected crimes are believed to have taken place at the church's own school and camps, and there are more than 10 possible victims," Harri Rahikka, a senior commissioner at the National Bureau of Investigation, told AFP.

The Finnish Adventist Church has about 5700 members.

Investigators said the suspect had been working for the church for a long time and the crimes are believed to have taken place over two decades.

Since the alleged abuse has been going on for such a prolonged time, police are also investigating whether senior church officials knew about it and covered it up, as they are bound by law to notify authorities of any such cases immediately.

Police said they were also following up on leads indicating that more church officials may have taken part in the sexual abuse, but could give no further details.