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Neo-Nazi group member gets 2-year prison sentence for Helsinki Railway Station attack

A founding member of the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement was handed a two-year prison sentence on Friday for aggravated assault after drop-kicking a passerby during the group’s demonstration at the Helsinki Railway Station in September. The victim sustained head injuries and later died. The prosecution says it will appeal.

Jesse Torniainen.
Jesse Torniainen. Image: Yle

The Helsinki District Court threw out the prosecution’s charges of aggravated involuntary manslaughter against 26 year-old Jesse Torniainen.

However the court convicted Torniainen on a lesser charge of aggravated assault and handed down a two-year prison sentence in a verdict hat was delivered at 11.00 am Friday.

Prosecutors had called for a sentence of 5.5 to 6 years for aggravated involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

The court heard that evidence did not confirm that the death of the 28 year-old victim was caused by head injuries he sustained when he fell after the accused kicked him in the chest. The victim suffered a fractured skull, and cerebral bruising and bleeding.

Responding to the verdict, prosecutor Anja-Riitta Rinkinen said that there could have been no other reason for the victim's death than the blow to the head. She said the prosecution will appeal the verdict.

Accused: Attack part of group's operations

The attack followed a brief exchange between the two men at a small demonstration by the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement at the plaza outside the Helsinki Railway Station in September.

The court noted that Torniainen said that the attack had been part of the organisation’s operations and of its defence activities.

Torniainen was widely reported to be a founding member of the group, and had accumulated an extensive criminal record for assault, weapons offences, vandalism, resisting arrest and smuggling, among others.

Torniainen's defence lawyer Hannu Tuomainen said that he was satisfied with the outcome. He added that the defence won the case because the charge of aggravated involuntary manslaughter was thrown out on the basis of hospital and medical records and testimony provided by medical professionals.

Additionally, he noted that the prosecution's argument that the attack was an act of racism, was baseless.

Edit 1.20 pm: Headline updated to reflect that the sentence was handed down for an aggravated assault charge.

Edit: 3.24 pm: Updated to include reaction by prosecution and defence lawyers.

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