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Three facing prosecution over racist Finns Party youth tweet

The trial will be held at Pirkanmaa District court.

Raija Toiviainen, valtakunnansyyttäjä
State Prosecutor Raija Toiviainen. Image: Yle
Yle News

State Prosecutor Raija Toiviainen has brought charges against three people in relation to a tweet from the Finns Party youth wing's account in 2019.

The tweet was posted ahead of the European elections. It featured a black couple with a baby, and read 'vote for the Finns Party if you don't want Finland's future to look like this".

Police started an investigation into the tweet, and now the prosecutor has made the decision to charge three people.

"One of them is the chair of the organisation's Lapland chapter," said regional prosecutor Maija Päivinen. "Two were vice-chairs. They're charged with agitation against an ethnic group."

Regional prosecutor Päivinen will prosecute the case in court at Toiviainen's request.

Apology didn't help

The Finns Party youth wing apologised for the tweet in a press statement after it was published.

"My tweet was thoughtless and I did it impulsively when I had the idea," said Finns Party youth vice-chair Toni Jalonen in a statement. "Later I understood that it had gone wrong, but the damage had already been done. I've learnt from this and in future I'll use my judgement better in the organisation's communications."

According to Yle's sources, Jalonen is one of those now facing prosecution.

After the tweet was published Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho said that 'the party's youth wing has a small group of people that don't seem to understand the party's line."

Halla-aho himself was in 2012 convicted of agitating against an ethnic group and disturbing religious worship after publishing texts in which he had suggested Islam allows paedophilia, and that robbing passers-by and living on social benefits were ethnic characteristics of Somalis.

When the youth wing declined to change its rules in line with the main party's wishes, the party cut all links and set up a new youth wing.

Ministerial funding lost

The tweet cost the organisation a lot of money.

**Read more: **Finns Party youth wing denied state funding after racist tweet

Youth organisations attached to political parties receive funding proportional to the support each party received at the last election. In the Finns Party's case, that amounted to some 115,000 euros, of which 58,000 euros had already been paid.

That money disappeared with the tweet, as the Ministry of Education and Culture announced it would recover money already paid and stop any more funds being released to the organisation.

That case is currently making its way through the administrative courts. The Ministry is arguing that the organisation had operated against the law.

Prosecutors say there is not yet a timetable for the criminal case.

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