A lengthy police investigation into the suspected terrorist activities of a neo-Nazi gang from the town of Kankaanpää in Finland's southwest is nearing completion, and will be passed to prosecutors for consideration "within a few weeks".
The case first came to the attention of the public in December 2021, when the five suspects — all men aged between 23 and 26 — were remanded in custody on suspicion of making preparations for a terrorist attack.
Police said at the time they believed the group were influenced by accelerationist ideas — meaning they wanted to create chaos in society in order to hasten the collapse of contemporary civilisation — and the case marks the first time charges have ever been filed against a far-right group in Finland.
An Yle investigation into the gang's activities revealed an extensive list of crimes committed by its members, with interviewees reporting the gang were known to harass, intimidate and even violently attack people in the town over the course of a number of years.
Many of these incidents involved victims from minority backgrounds, police said.
During the course of the preliminary investigation, police confiscated several weapons from the terror cell, including an assault rifle and sawn-off shotguns, as well as dynamite and fertiliser containing the explosive ammonium nitrate.
Court freed suspects from pre-trial detention
In January 2022, Satakunta District Court ordered the release of four of the gang, ruling police had not put forward any new evidence in support of the application to continue the detention of the suspects.
One of the suspects had been released by police a month earlier, although he was still considered a suspect in the case.
Yle's investigation also found that some of the suspects had prior convictions for offences including violent assaults.
The five members of the group include two brothers born in 1996 and 1998, and their cousin, who was born in 1996. In addition, there are two other men among the five, both born in 1995.
The publicity surrounding the case has caused mixed feelings in the Kankaanpää region, with some locals fearing the entire area will be stigmatised because of the suspected actions of a few individuals. People in the area have also raised question marks about the length of the police's investigation, which had initially been scheduled to be completed by March 2021.
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