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Helsinki police officer sacked over far-right hate speech

An internal investigation exposed inappropriate messages that indicate right-wing fuelled fanaticism and a plot to murder a politician.

An excerpt of a heavily-redacted page of messages included the phrase "there will be a lot of bodies" and "[they] may be surprised when the bullets start flying." Image: Länsi-Suomen syyttäjäalue / Turun hallinto-oikeus, kuvankäsittely: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

The Helsinki Police Department has fired a senior constable over having posted discriminatory messages against racial, religious and political groups. The hate-fuelled messages emerged in conversations with two other staff members at the department.

The now-former constable is no longer suspected of plotting a crime however, Helsinki Police deemed that the man was unfit to carry out his duties, as police are legally obliged to behave appropriately both on and off duty.

The Helsinki Police Department said that there were sufficient grounds for dismissing the senior constable, despite the still pending status of the criminal investigation.

"His conduct could seriously undermine confidence in the appropriate performance of police duties, as is stated in the formal decision of his dismissal," said deputy police chief Heikki Kopperoinen.

An investigation into the former constable's messages revealed intentions of joining in and doing "undercover" work on behalf of far-right groups. Evidence suggested that the officer may have misused his powers and disclosed confidential information in breach of official duties.

Hate speech chats

According to the formal dismissal notice, three of the messages described intentions of inhumane and sadistic behaviour towards "motherland-traitor" politicians identified by the man and said politicians' supporters.

In one of the messages, the constable talked about coming across one of these politicians when out shopping and indicated that "now would be an opportunity to murder [them]" but had then decided that since "the commie bitches are in power, removing the poor thing would not have changed anything."

Other messages also call for the execution of certain groups when an anticipated "civil war" breaks out. "The Somalis will be gassed, the gypsies will be shot and the Muslims will be burned with flame throwers," wrote another officer.

The former senior constable had responded with a message pointing out how he had forgotten about "the commies" accompanied by laughing emojis.

The constable said that the messages were private, suggesting that is a significant factor when assessing the motives behind them. The man also argued that this was just a case of "blowing off steam and venting of frustrations" and described the messages as "fictional black humour."

"Not acceptable"

According to the police department's decision, however, whether the messages were private or public was irrelevant in assessing his conduct.

"The messages give the impression that the author does not respect fundamental or human rights, nor does he want to promote these rights," the notice read. "It is very difficult to even imagine a more uncivilised, crude and deplorable language than the one present in the messages. Such use of language cannot generally be considered acceptable."

The department also took into account a firearms conviction the man received in March at Helsinki District Court.

The court ruled he had been in possession of 170 cartridges which he had taken from the police station without permission. The ammunition is classified as especially dangerous.

One more police officer has been arrested in connection to the messages, pending jurisdiction. The man was involved in discussions with the dismissed officer. The third officer found to have taken part in the conversations has not been subject to any judicial action.

The Prosecutor General's Office is still investigating criminal suspects of police far-right activities.

"There have been no suspicions of a far-right police network in the past. The Helsinki Police Department is no place for far-right activities" Kopperoinen said.

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