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Police top brass charged for failing to rein in rogue drug cops

Three senior police officers face prosecution related to the case of convicted former Helsinki drug squad chief Jari Aarnio.

From left: Mikko Paatero, Lasse Aapio and Jukka Riikonen. Image: AOP ja Yle

Finland's prosecutor general Raija Toiviainen is charging three high-ranking police officers for official misconduct on Wednesday for failing to properly oversee the Helsinki drug squad unit’s use of informants.

The charges centre around events at the Helsinki police drug unit which began more than a decade ago, when it was headed up by the unit's previously-celebrated chief Jari Aarnio.

Toiviainen says former National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero as well as current chief Lasse Aapio, and former police commander Jukka Riikonen looked the other way between 2009 and 2013 in regard to the proper registration of sources used in the drug squad’s investigations. The prosecutor maintains that the trio knew the drug squad failed to properly register sources. All three men deny any wrongdoing.

Aarnio, who's currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for a slew of corruption and drug offences, is suspected of deleting informants’ names from official records while neglecting to register names of people used as sources of information during their investigations.

Aarnio has said his drug squad stopped registering informants in late 2007 and destroyed informant records in 2008. By law, the names of people who give police information must be appropriately entered in a database.

In 2016 the lower court convicted the Helsinki drug unit chief on six charges of aggravated drug offences as well as 16 other crimes and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Aarnio was first remanded in pre-trial custody in 2013.