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Appeal court upholds Finns Party MP's ethnic agitation conviction

Sebastian Tynkkynen (Finns) has been found guilty on three separate occasions of agitating against an ethnic group.

Sebastian Tynkkynen pictured in Parliament in autumn 2021. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

The Rovaniemi Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction handed down to Finns Party MP Sebastian Tynkkynen last year for inciting ethnic agitation.

The Oulu District Court ordered Tynkkynen to pay 70 day fines — amounting to 4,400 euros — after finding him guilty of the charge.

The charge related to texts Tynkkynen published on social media during the 2017 election campaign, which prosecutors told the district court had slandered immigrants and asylum seekers.

The Oulu MP had denied the charges, but the court ruled that the texts were insulting and defamatory towards asylum seekers and immigrants, and further ordered Tynkkynen to delete the posts.

Tynkkynen — who has two previous convictions for incitement against an ethnic group, handed down in 2017 and 2019 — issued a statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the latest verdict and announcing his intention to appeal to the Supreme Court.

During the district court hearing, he argued that the posts were related to his election campaign, and were intended to highlight messages sent to him by citizens concerned about the negative side effects of immigration.

However, in its initial ruling, the Oulu District Court found that the posts could not be regarded as an acceptable criticism of immigration policy within the limits of freedom of expression.

In addition, the court ruled that the texts were written in such a way that the criteria for meeting the offence of incitement against an ethnic group was evident.

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