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Friday's papers: Storm causes trotting horse deaths, Finns Party Halla-aho's popularity increasing, dads grow cannabis for real estate investment

Finland's press on Friday report that the midweek storm caused the deaths of two Finnish trotting horses that were travelling to Sweden on a cruise ship. Finns Party EU MP Jussi Halla-aho is gaining support among party members. Four dads in Porvoo tried to finance a house flip investment by growing and selling cannabis.

Newspapers Friday 13.1.2016
Image: Yle

The midweek storm which hit southern and western Finland likely caused the deaths of two trotting horses on their way to Stockholm, en route to Sweden on the Baltic cruise ship Silja Symphony on Wednesday night, Ilta-Sanomat reports.

The trotting horses were on their way to Gothenburg, Sweden with trainer Veijo Heiskanen, but did not survive the rough sea journey.

Later on Thursday, wind speeds of more than 30 metres per second caused sea swells to reach up to 15 metres, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The two horses were named Pine Crown girl and Euphoria Diablo, the paper reported.

The cruise ship company Silja's representative confirmed that two horses were travelling on the Symphony, and that they were transported to a veterinarian in Uppsala, Sweden, but said he could not confirm the deaths.

However, harness racing firm Ravitalli did confirm the deaths, but said it was not sure what the causes were, according to the paper.

Finns Party Halla-aho's rising popularity

Finns Party member and current EU MP Jussi Halla-aho now has nearly the same amount of support within his party as current party chair Timo Soini, Aamulehti reports.

According to a poll commissioned by the paper's publisher Lännen Media, if a party leader election were to be held now, 55 percent of the influential Finns Party members who were polled said they'd vote for Soini, while 45 percent would choose Halla-aho, the paper writes.

Markku Jokisipilä, the director of the Turku University Centre for Parliamentary Research told the paper that the results show that Halla-aho has genuine support among voters and a realistic chance to seriously challenge Soini.

The poll also found that respondents are apparently hoping for a change in party leadership. Some 78 percent of respondents said they want to see more candidates in the party chair elections, which are scheduled to be held this summer at a party congress in Jyväskylä.

Some 256 Finns Party district board members, local association chairs, MPs and other party leaders took part in the Lännen Media poll, according to the paper.

"Normal dads" tried to finance house flip with cannabis

Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reports on an unusual story from the small town of Porvoo, some 50 km east of Helsinki.

Police say that four individuals, who were described by the paper as "normal men," with careers, families and no past criminal history decided to buy a dilapidated house as an investment. They planned to renovate it and then sell it, but needed money for renovation costs.

Two of the dads already apparently grew cannabis as a hobby. The four decided to grow the illicit plant in the house, in order to sell it for construction costs. The plan was to fix up the house and to sell it off, thereby effectively laundering their profits through the sale, police said.

Investigators found that one of the men secured a 50,000 euro bank loan to buy the run-down house, the paper reports, and had a little left over after the sale. With those funds, the men bought the gear needed to grow the cannabis.

At first their plan worked, according to detectives; the four men were able to renovate the roof, paint the walls and drill a well. In all, the men managed six harvests and law enforcement officials estimate that the men earned up to 100,000 euros, selling a total of 8.6 kg of cannabis.

Police say that the first plants were harvested and sold, and all profits went into renovation costs and costs for the next grow, the paper writes. One of the men was in charge of botanical responsibilities, another was bookkeeper and the other two sold the cannabis.

The scheme was eventually uncovered by police, however, after one of the men was caught for growing cannabis at his home, the paper writes.

The police's drug squad wrote about the drug money-financed real estate investment in a blog post.

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