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Tuesday's papers: No presidential pardons so far, long drink sales up and neo-Nazi court day

Tuesday's papers report on President Niinistö's refusal to grant pardons, the increase in long drink sales and the Nordic Resistance Movement's judicial process.

Image: Petri Aaltonen / Yle

Daily Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)reports that President Sauli Niinistö turned down all clemency petitions he received from 17 criminals so far this year.

The applicants for presidential pardon included the crossbow killer Alexandr Siekkinen, who murdered two women in Pori in 2007, as well as two men convicted of manslaughter and murder.

According to Aamulehti, Niinistö said last year that he would be willing to give up the right to pardon criminals altogether.

“This is an old tradition from the royal times giving the ruler the right to absolve lawbreakers,” Niinistö said at that time.

During his tenure, Niinistö has on average pardoned three people each year, significantly fewer than his predecessor Tarja Halonen, who granted clemency to about 20 convicts annually.

In all, Niinistö received 461 clemency applications during his first five-year term, 443 of which were rejected or not processed at all, Aamulehti says.

Long drink sales up

Meanwhile, daily Lapin Kansa (siirryt toiseen palveluun) tells its readers that the sales of long drink (commonly known as lonkero in Finnish) grew by more than 40 percent in the first five months of this year.

According to the paper, 21 million litres of the mixed drink containing gin and grapefruit soda were sold during January-May, up from 14.6 million litres over the same period in 2017.

On the other hand, the figures from the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) showed that demand for beer and cider fell by 2.5 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively.

The considerable increase in long drink sales has been driven by the changes to alcohol laws at the start of this year, Lapin Kansa says. The new alcohol law which came into effect in 2018 removed Alko's monopoly on sales of strong beers, ciders and pre-mixed cocktails.

According to Pia Mäkelä from Valvira, it is too early to make a judgment about the impact of the alcohol law change.

“However, due to the amount of marketing for long drinks there is, it's logical that sales would have grown a lot,” Mäkelä says.

Nevertheless, beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in Finland, with 153 million litres sold in the first five months of this year, Lapin Kansa says.

Neo-Nazis in court

Finally, tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reports that the court case for the Nordic Resistance Movement (Finnish acronym PVL) will begin today. The Turku Court of Appeal will decide whether to uphold the ban on the neo-Nazi movement.

A court in Tampere prohibited the group - which has been linked with violent racist activities - last November. At the time, the court said PVL flagrantly violated the principles of good practice, and was not entitled to freedom of speech protections as its actions violated the human rights of others.

However, PVL continued to post materials on its website and took part in demonstrations on Independence Day, resulting in a call for a provisional ban by the National Police Board. However, a court of appeal turned down the request as a ban would have no effect on an unregistered organisation such as PVL.

According to Iltalehti, PVL bases its appeal on the vague definition of “good practice” and the fact that there is little legal precedence concerning unregistered associations in Finland.