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Finland’s top cops get misconduct charges thrown out

Five senior police officers have had charges of official misconduct dismissed by Helsinki District Court.

Paatero, Lardot, Aapio, Riikonen, Aarnio
Five current and retired police officers were accused of official misconduct. Image: Lehtikuva / Yle

Some of Finland’s most senior police officers scored a big win on Wednesday, when they were cleared of official misconduct by Helsinki District Court.

The case relates to the handling of confidential informants between 2008 and 2013, when disgraced narcotics cop Jari Aarnio’s unit had not properly registered informants in the appropriate channels and superior officers had not intervened to prevent the practice.

In the dock had been Aarnio, former National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero, the head of the National Bureau of Investigation Robin Lardot, Helsinki police chief Lasse Aapio and his predecessor Jukka Riikonen.

The court ruled that registration of confidential sources would have required the establishment of a national source database, but such a register was not founded until 2018.

As a result, registration of sources and documenting their use would not have been legal at the time of the alleged offences, according to the court's ruling.

The court found that Paatero had no knowledge that should have led to him investigating Helsinki Police Department over its source management practices, and when Lardot was made aware of the practices he took appropriate action.

Prosecutors had demanded prison terms or fines for several of the defendants, and Lardot and Aapio had been suspended from their posts over the case.

The Interior Ministry said immediately after the verdict that they would both return to work.

In addition to these five senior officers, three other people were defendants in the case.

Two of them worked at Helsinki Police department and one at the National Police Board.

The prosecutor's office is considering whether or not to appeal the verdict.

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