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Police open preliminary probe into Finns Party MP's racist tweet

Prosecutor General Toiviainen said there was reason to suspect incitement against an ethnic group.

Ano Turtiainen Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Helsinki police is opening a preliminary investigation into Finns Party MP Ano Turtiainen’s racist tweet at the behest of the Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen.

Turtiainen’s social media post mocked George Floyd, an African-American who was killed by US police in late May, an act that sparked widespread outrage and protests across America as well as many parts of the world, including Finland.

Several criminal complaints had been filed with Finnish police over the tweet, which Turtiainen has since deleted.

Initially however, police said they were not planning to open a preliminary investigation into the tweet, saying it did not amount to slander or insult that met the criteria for an incitement offence.

At the time, police said the criteria of defamation was not met because mocking a deceased person is not punishable under law.

However,Toiviainen said there was reason to suspect incitement against an ethnic group, according to a report published Friday by news outlet Demokratti. The prosecutor general said it was important to learn more about the incident as the tweet could be construed as racist.

Turtiainen's tweet also triggered a dismissal from his position in the Finns Party's parliamentary group. The group's chair, Ville Tavio, described the tweet as the latest in a long string of inappropriate social media comments.

Finns Party chair, Jussi Halla-aho told Yle last week that the party board was planning to discuss whether to expel Turtiainen from the party outright.