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Ex-police officers charged with aggravated perjury in Aarnio drug trial

Prosecutors say two former drug squad officers gave misleading testimony as witnesses in a major drug case involving the unit's former chief, Jari Aarnio.

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Hundreds of kilos of hashish were smuggled from the Netherlands to Finland packed in blue barrels. Image: Keskusrikospoliisi

Two former police officers have been charged aggravated perjury related to an extensive drug case centring on Jari Aarnio, the former head of the Helsinki Police drug unit.

The men, who worked in the drug crime unit under Aarnio, are accused of making false statements at Helsinki District Court and the Court of Appeal. The two police officers pled innocent at Helsinki District Court on Thursday.

Aarnio is serving a long prison term for running a drug ring. The investigation was dubbed the 'barrel case' since hundreds of kilos of hashish were smuggled from the Netherlands to Finland packed in blue barrels.

According to the prosecutor, the officers provided misinformation that supported an alternative version of events presented by Aarnio in the case.

The evidence was related to mobile phone records showing the movements of an individual referred to by investigators as "the Pasila man,” referring the Helsinki district where police headquarters is located. Aarnio claimed that the phone accounts had been found to be linked with lawful activities by some police officers.

In the Court of Appeal, Aarnio was found to have been the "Pasila man" who organised the smuggling of hashish and who had used the phone accounts.

The appeals court also declared that statements by Aarnio's former subordinates were untrue.

Aarnio faces life in prison

The court sentenced Aarnio to 10 years in prison on an array of charges including five felony drug offenses and official misconduct.

He was found guilty of importing hundreds of kilos of hashish, aggravated tampering with evidence, and witness intimidation.

The Court of Appeal also sentenced Aarnio to three years in prison in another case related to the acquisition of Trevoc surveillance equipment.

The Helsinki District Court has also sentenced Aarnio to life in prison for murder, related to his failure to prevent the contract killing of a Swedish-Turkish man. The Court of Appeal will consider that case next autumn.

The actual average length of a "life" prison term in Finland is 14-15 years.

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