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Desecration case dropped due to lack of evidence

Police do not have enough evidence to charge a suspect for defacing Jewish graves in Hamina and a statue of Lenin in Kotka.

A gravestone defaced last spring in a Jewish cemetery in Hamina. File photo.. Image: Tiina Karppi / Yle

Police suspect the same person of desecrating a Jewish cemetery and defacing a statue of Lenin in the cities of Hamina and Kotka respectively in April and early May.

In April, a grave marker at a Russian Imperial era Jewish cemetery in Hamina was toppled, and another gravestone was painted with a white swastika. At the same time, neo-Nazi flyers were distributed to the mail boxes of residents in the area.

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The cemetery in Hamina is no longer in active use. It was originally established in the 19th century for Jewish soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army stationed in the area and their family members.

Over the May Day holiday, a statue of the Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in Kotka was defaced with a Star of David and an anti-semitic text.

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A statue of Lenin in the centre of Kotka was defaced during the May Day holiday. This photo was taken on the morning of 1 May. Image: Tytti Osola

The statue, made by the sculptor Matti Varik, is located in the city centre and was a gift in 1979 from its twin city of Tallinn when Estonia was still part of the Soviet Union.

Investigation now suspended

Police have questioned one person suspected of being responsible for both acts, but have released no details about the individual or any affiliations.

Police say that at this stage, they do not have sufficient evidence to move for prosecution.

"The investigation is likely to be suspended because there is nothing to investigate. The hope would be to have eyewitness sightings. If we receive new information, the cases will be re-investigated," says Jarmo Rahkola of the Southeast Finland Police.

Both the Jewish cemetery in Hamina and the statue of Lenin in Kotka were cleaned and restored soon after the incidents. The City of Hamina undertook the cleaning and restoration work at the cemetery, even though it does not own the area. The graves are located on the property of a private landowner.

In January, the Turku Synagogue was vandalised with red paint splashed on the front door, steps and outer walls. That incident coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day.