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Finns Party MP stands trial for ethnic agitation

Sebastian Tynkkynen is in court for a second time on charges of agitation against an ethnic group via social media posts.

Perussuomalaisen kansanedustaja Sebastian Tynkkysen oikeudenkäynti 3.10.2019.
Finns Party MP Sebastian Tynkkynen Image: Paulus Markkula / Yle

The trial of Finns Party MP Sebastian Tynkkynen began on Thursday in the Oulu District Court. A lawmaker from the northwest municipality where the proceedings are being held, Tynkkynen is suspected of agitation against an ethnic group in a 2016 Facebook post on Islam and terrorism.

Representing himself in the proceedings, Tynkkynen denied having committed a crime and said that the trial was politically-motivated.

The prosecutor in the case maintained that Tynkkynen must have known that his Facebook update was racist in nature and constituted defamatory hate speech generally directed at Muslims. The prosecution called for the court to impose a 60-day fine for the offence.

The unofficial English translation of Finland's Criminal Code in this area makes it illegal for a person to "make available to the public or otherwise spread among the public or keep available for the public information, an expression of opinion or another message where a certain group is threatened, defamed or insulted on the basis of its race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or a comparable basis."

Possibility of third trial looms

In his response to the district court, Tynkkynen compared the case to previous trials of two other prominent members of the nationalist Finns Party, MP Teuvo Hakkarainen and current chair Jussi Halla-aho. Both men were convicted on charges of ethnic agitation, Hakkarainen in 2017 and Halla-aho in 2012.

Some thirty or so people turned out to follow Tykkynen’s trial in Oulu, including some of his supporters and members of the media, prompting officials to move the proceedings to a larger space.

Tynkkynen was already convicted once in court in 2017 for Facebook comments he posted in 2016. At the time he was found guilty of ethnic agitation and the separate crime of breaching the sanctity of religion.

A third case is also pending, concerning Facebook posts Tynkkynen wrote in 2017, which have also placed him under suspicion of inciting ethnic agitation. Oulu police have referred that case to the district prosecutor for consideration of charges.

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