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Criminal trial of Kittilä municipal councillors begins

Twenty-eight municipal workers are on trial for aggravated official misconduct in Kittilä, Lapland. Half of the accused also face occupational safety charges.

Syyttäjä Sari Anttonen saapui Lapin käräjäoikeuteen lounastauon jälkeen.
Prosecutor Sari Anttonen at Lapland District Court. Image: Maija-Liisa Juntti / Yle

Over a period of several weeks the court will hear the details of a multi-faceted case dating back to 2013.

The case centres on the legality of the 2014 dismissal of Kittilä Mayor Anna Mäkelä. The Administrative Court earlier ruled that each of the municipal councillors that sought to have her removed was guilty of official misconduct.

The charges relate to the establishment of a temporary committee for the purpose of sacking Mäkelä, decision-making by the municipal council and the implementation of the dismissal in municipal board meetings. In addition, prosecutors have brought charges against a committee secretary for assisting in aggravated official misconduct.

Mäkelä was fired after she blew the whistle on a leak of confidential information about a tender to acquire a ski lift worth millions of euros.

Ministry steps in to suspended town officials

Several Kittilä council and board members are also suspected of misconduct and attempted aggravated fraud in association with the so-called Eilavaara case, in which legal expert Pertti Eilavaara sent an invoice to the municipal council for his services following a probe into a shady ski lift deal.

The council's refusal to pay the bill, one of several controversial decisions, in addition to firing the mayor, have kept the municipality of Kittilä in the headlines for several years.

In June this year, the Finance Ministry suspended 20 of the town's local councillors for refusing to step down after they were charged with official misconduct.

The defendants were voted into office in the last municipal elections. The accused represent the Centre Party, National Coalition, the Finns Party as well as the Left Alliance.

Located some 150 kilomteres north of Rovaniemi, Kittilä is a popular holiday resort in Finnish Lapland. It is home to the popular Levi Ski Resort on the Levi Fell, with an elevation of 531 metres.

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