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Court acquits four in Finland's first terror case

Helsinki Appeals Court has acquitted four people of financing terror in Finland's first terrorism case. Four defendants were accused of sending money to the terror group al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya. One was also charged with recruitment and preparation for a terrorism-related crime related to his brother and nephew. A district court had earlier handed them all suspended prison terms.

Helsingin hovioikeus.
The Appeals Court in Helsinki's Salmisaari district. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

The Appeals Court has overturned a lower court's verdict in Finland's first terror case, acquitting four people of funding terror.

The court noted that at the time of their actions, financially supporting a terror group had not yet been criminalised in Finland, and there was little evidence to back up the other charges.

Four defendants of Somali background were accused of sending money to support the terror group al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya. One was also charged with recruitment and preparation for a terrorism-related crime.

A district court had earlier handed them all suspended prison terms.

The Appeals Court noted that at the time of their actions, providing financial support to a terrorist group had not yet been criminalised under Finnish law except in cases where it was clear that the money would be used for terrorism. They sent mostly small sums of money between 2008 and 2010.  One had sent a total of 2500 dollars.

"Charitable causes"

The appeals court found that one of the defendants knew that the money was going to support paramilitary actions by al-Shabaab. Even so, that could not be ruled to be supporting terror as there was a civil war in Somalia at the time, and al-Shabaab was one party to that conflict.

The other three believed that their money was going to support charitable causes, according to the court.

Charges of recruiting for terror were also dismissed by the appeals court. One of the defendants had been suspected of recruiting his nephew to an al-Shabaab training camp. The court found that it is impossible to assess the defendant's influence on the nephew, as he had not been interviewed in the investigation or during the trial. Neither did the court see any concrete evidence of a plan to take the nephew to a training camp.

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