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Interior Minister says he’s satisfied with police action on New Year’s Eve

Pre-emptive action by the police on New Year’s Eve may have been the reason the celebrations passed off without any major incidents, says Interior Minister Petteri Orpo. Orpo said that police action had been based on intelligence that crimes were being planned.

Kokoomuksen sisäministeri Petteri Orpo.
Interior Minister Petteri Orpo. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto

Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said Thursday that he was satisfied with how police in Finland discharged their duties on New Year’s Eve.

"In that regard I have no complaints, on the contrary, perhaps the police action was commendable," Orpo told Yle.

On Thursday Helsinki police announced that they had broken up a gathering of roughly 1,000 Iraqi asylum seekers who had congregated in the tunnel at Helsinki’s central railway station. They said they had removed dozens of people from the scene and detained several. Police received three reports of assaults, two of which led to criminal complaints.

On New Year’s Eve police also arrested six men from the Aavaranta asylum seeker reception centre in Kirkkonummi on suspicion of inciting crime. However they were released one day later.

"Police had intelligence that some crimes were planned around the New Year. They took advance action and in that way may have ensured that the New Year in Finland passed relatively peacefully, although there were many people about," Orpo remarked.

Orpo: Police still looking into links with German incident

Asked whether his ministry had any information to suggest links between the gathering at the Helsinki railway station and an incident in Cologne, Germany in which a large group of men allegedly robbed and molested women, Orpo said police were still looking into a possible connection.

"These are things that the police are looking into and investigating," he responded, adding that more information would be forthcoming when the chain of events became clearer.

On Thursday, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Alfgren of the National Bureau of Investigation said that a preliminary investigation had revealed no links between the two incidents.

The minister said that following terrorist attacks in Paris last year, police have been in a heightened state of alert with regard to public and mass events.

"This is one of those important measures that have been taken to maintain the general security situation. We will continue this for as long as the general security situation demands it," Orpo added.

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