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Founder of anti-immigrant website freed to await verdict in ethnic agitation trial

The Helsinki District Court is expected to deliver a verdict at the end of September.

Ilja Janitskin
Ilja Janitskin in court on 13 June at the start of his trial. Image: AOP

Ilja Janitskin, founder of the anti-immigrant website MV-lehti has been freed to await a verdict in his trial on charges of ethnic agitation and defamation.

Janitskin had been remanded into custody in April to await trial. Hearings in the case began in early June and the court is expected to deliver a verdict at the end of September.

Janitskin’s defence lawyers petitioned the Helsinki district court to release the defendant at the start of the trial in mid-June. However prosecutor Juho-Mikko Hämäläinen opposed the request and the court held Janitskin at a remand facility in Vantaa.

Last week, Janitskin renewed his request to be released. In issuing its decision to free Janitskin, the court said that there was no longer any need to hold him in remand.

Defendant denies charges

The defendant had been avoiding the long arm of the law in Andorra until local authorities extradited him to Finland to face trial earlier this year.

Apart from defamation and ethnic agitation, Janitskin was also read charges relating to illegal threats, copyright infringements, fundraising offences and gambling crimes.

Janitskin has refuted the allegations against him as well as compensation claims and denied responsibility for the website as its editor-in-chief.

Controversial academic also facing charges

The trial also began hearings into charges against divisive academic Johan Bäckman, known for his statements on Russian child custody rights abroad. Bäckman stands accused of running a campaign of persecution and aggravated slander against Yle journalist Jessikka Aro. He has also denied the charges against him.

The prosecutor has called for the court to slap Janitskin with a 20-month prison sentence and Bäckman with an eight-month suspended sentence.

Prosecutors are still considering whether or not to lay charges with respect to other suspected offences.

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