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Finns Party MP gets heftier fine for assault, sexual harassment

Teuvo Hakkarainen saw his fine for attacking a fellow MP more than doubled by an appellate court.

Teuvo Hakkarainen in court last June. Image: Ville Tapio / Yle

Last summer, Finns Party lawmaker Teuvo Hakkarainen was convicted of assault and sexual harassment against fellow MP Veera Ruoho after a Christmas party in December 2017.

The Helsinki Court of Appeal has now raised Hakkarainen's punishment from 45 day fines to 80 day fines. Based on Hakkarainen's income, that adds up to 5,440 euros.

Ruoho, who earlier in 2017 defected from the nationalist Finns Party to the conservative National Coalition Party, was sitting in the Parliament House café with another MP when she was approached by Hakkarainen, who had been drinking at a party elsewhere in the building.

Ruoho told the court that Hakkarainen grabbed her jaw and tried forcibly to kiss her despite her protestations.

The appellate court ruled on Friday that a previous district court sentence was insufficient. It ordered Hakkarainen's fine to be raised because the violence was directed toward the head and neck area, involved sexual harassment and took place at their workplace.

Prosecutor sought suspended jail term

Prosecutor Eija Velitski had called for a two-month suspended prison sentence for Hakkarainen. However the court ruled that the act did not warrant imprisonment, as it did not involved choking.

It did however find that Hakkarainen had firmly grabbed Ruoho in a headlock and turned her head.

"Despite the potential danger, [the incident] was very brief and the harm relatively mild," the court declared.

The prosecutor argued that the assault led to Ruoho having to undergo neck surgery last June, as well as "long-running aches and pains in the neck area as well as insomnia due to shock".

"If the right spot is pressed there, it can kill you," Velitski told the news agency STT, claiming that the incident had re-activated an old sports injury.

Ruoho is a former member of the Finnish Olympic taekwondo team and police officer specialising in foreign citizens' issues. She quit the Finns Party in mid-2017 when immigration hardliner Jussi Halla-aho became its leader.

Hakkarainen has a record of seven convictions since 1985, including chopping down trees illegally while drunk, stealing silverware and wine from a church, drunk driving, speeding, and incitement against an ethnic group for anti-Muslim comments on Facebook in 2016.

Either side may still appeal the case to the Supreme Court.