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Tears as Finns Party politician's hate speech trial begins

Controversial Finns Party politician Sebastian Tynkkynen dissolved into tears at the Oulu District Court as he delivered his closing statement during his trial for incitement to religious hatred. Tynkkynen said that as a politician and Christian he could defend himself no further.

Emotion got the better of former chair of the Finns Party's youth wing Sebastian Tynkkynen during his trial for hate speech. Image: Eeva Riihelä / Lehtikuva

The trial of former head of the Finns Party youth wing Sebastian Tynkkynen began in the Oulu District Court on Wednesday with an emotional display from the man accused of inciting religious hatred.

Tynkkynen is on trial for statements he made in Facebook posts about Muslims and Islam. He is accused of threatening, slandering and insulting Muslims based on their religion. Tynkkynen himself has denied the charges and says his intention was political, and that he wanted to defend western values.

Speaking in court on Wednesday, the Finnish Big Brother alumnus said that not all of his criticism of immigration or of Muslims should be construed as hate speech.

"I still don’t believe that I am in this situation. How else can one write about Islam," Tynkkynen said during the session.

The chairman of the court intervened at that point to ask if Tynkkynen could continue or whether he needed a break. Tynkkynen said he would continue, although his emotions ran high.

Prosecutor: Writer’s intent irrelevant

During his closing comments District Prosecutor Juha Karikoski said that the charges include evaluations of Tynkkynen’s comments, and that they indicated that the writer is guilty of the charges brought against him.

"The writer’s intentions have no significance, rather he has been aware that they fit the nature of the crime, in other words, they were libelous and defamatory," Karikoski noted.

"I am deeply offended by this kind description of the act," Tynkkynen said.

"I have previously attended court as a witness in case involving my African friend. A racist or xenophobic person would never do that. These charges are the complete opposite of who I am," the defendant added tearfully.

"I have now been made the object of political persecution," the Finns Party politician said as his voice shook. He added that it is no easy task to be a politician in a world faced with the challenge of Islam.

Tynkkynen said that he does not accept any kind of speech.

"There is racism and xenophobia. My writings don’t represent that."

He ended his emotional statement by saying that as a politician and a Christian he could defend himself no further.

The court will hand down a verdict in the case on January 16.