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PM in knife scare in Turku

The Prime Minister's security detail sprang into action when a man brandished a knife during a discussion with the premier.

Jyrki Katainen haastateltavana kokoomuksen vaalitilaisuudessa.
Jyrki Katainen haastateltavana kokoomuksen vaalitilaisuudessa Raisiossa 22. lokakuuta. Image: Yle

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen was visiting a National Coalition election stand in Turku Monday afternoon when a man approached him concealing a knife.

The man exchanged a few words with Katainen before suddenly pulling out the weapon, which he then dropped in front of the premier.

The Prime Minister's security detail quickly nabbed the man.

Head of the National Coalition's party group in southwest Finland Aki Lehtonen said that the Prime Minister was quickly whisked away to safety.

Following the incident members of the traffic police swept the area before allowing the premier to resume campaigning.

"This was unfortunate but a fleeting incident. There were many people about today and there have been no scenes," Lehtonen added.

Eyewitness account

An eyewitness interviewed by Yle’s Turku service described the scene in which Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen was apparently threatened by a knife-wielding man.

“A man around the age of 25 came, he had a beard, brown hair and was relatively normal looking. He waited his turn and began to talk with the Prime Minister and he said ‘I’m in a very difficult situation and I need your help,’ and the Prime Minister seemed to be listening to him,” the eyewitness explained.

“His next statement was, ‘I came to pretend to kill you.” He kneeled and the weapon appeared on the ground, some kind of knife. The security men immediately took him away and held him and the weapon. The Prime Minister moved off in the opposite direction,” the eyewitness said.

Police investigations continue

Police described the knife-wielding man as slightly under 30 years. They said that the incident took place around 4.40 pm on Yliopistonkatu in downtown Turku.

According to police, the man was not aggressive, nor did he threaten the Prime Minister or any of the many nearby bystanders with violence.

Turku police added that the suspect would be questioned Tuesday as police attempt to clarify the details of the incident and the man’s possible motives.

Investigators are initially considering laying charges against the man for making unlawful threats.

Business as usual for PM

A statement from the Prime Minister's office stressed that the premier was not harmed during the incident and that he will continue to discharge his official duties as usual.

Katainen himself has declined comment on the incident.

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