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Charges dropped in Finns Party assassination attempt

The suspect's fingerprints were on a fake package apparently used as a pretext for gaining access to the victim's home.

The man, born in 1979, denied any involvement in the brutal assault. Image: Simo Pitkänen / Yle, Poliisin esitutkintapöytäkirja. Kuvankäsittely: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

The Central Finland District Court has dismissed charges against a man accused of trying to assassinate Finns Party official Pekka Kataja. The man was cleared of all charges and freed on Thursday.

The district court pointed out that the charges against the man were largely based on circumstantial evidence. It noted that there is substantial evidence that indirectly implies the defendant's guilt but does not directly prove it.

The District Court said it was very possible that the defendant had antipathies towards Kataja, but noted that others may have as well. The man, born in 1979, denied any involvement in the brutal assault.

Another suspect, former local Finns Party politician Teemu Torssonen, was previously released.

A fake package apparently used as a pretext for gaining access to Kataja's home was found to bear fingerprints from Torssonen and the other suspect, who is a friend and political supporter of Torssonen's.

In 2018-19, Kataja played a key role in a process whereby Torssonen was first barred from running as a Finns Party parliamentary candidate and then expelled from the party.

He had been elected to Jyväskylä city council on the Finns Party ticket in 2017, and remains on the council as an independent.

Case remains unresolved

The court said it is clear that last summer's attack by two men took place as Kataja reported, and that the act likely had a political motive. Kataja suffered a fractured skull among other serious injuries, which could have been life-threatening.

Traffic cameras appeared to capture images of a white car speeding away from Kataja's house in Jämsänkoski, central Finland, after the attack last July, but the vehicle has not been identified.

The case now remains unresolved, with no other suspects.

There has not been a case of politically motivated attempted murder in Finland in nearly a century, since the days of the nationalist Lapua Movement in the 1930s.