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Friday's papers: Sweden celebrates Finland's 100th, ID questions over Turku knife man, and city planners think safety

The last paper review of this week looks at festivities in Stockholm for Finland's centennial, efforts to determine the real name and age of Abderrahman Mechkah, changes to urban planners' work in the face of terrorist attacks, and a drop in speeding.

Sauli Niinistö, Jenni Haukio, kuningas Kaarle Kustaa ja kuningatar Silvia.
Celebrating Finland's anniversary year in Sweden. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Turku's newspaper Turun Sanomat casts its gaze westwards across the water to Stockholm, where three-day festivities are taking place to celebrate Finland's centennial. Yesterday President Sauli Niinistö and his wife were welcomed with great fanfare as the guests of the Royal Family, and the paper reports that today Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipilä will meet with his Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven.

It is the largest celebration of Finland's one hundred years of independence held outside of the country, and music, food, fashion and exhibitions will fill the Kungsträdgården Park in central Stockholm until Saturday. Finns are the largest immigrant group in Sweden. Over four percent of the population was either born in Finland or has at least one parent who was born in Finland.

Name and age of main suspect in Turku attacks unclear

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat continues coverage of the Turku stabbings last Friday, pulling together information gathered about the main suspect. IS says the German magazine Der Spiegel reported this week that the young Moroccan Abderrahman Mechkah is known to the German authorities, and was known to have used five different identities during his stay in Germany.

Another German publication, the Rheinische Post, says local police have Mechkah's fingerprints and other data after he was suspected of assault at two asylum seeker reception centres in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Men that IS have interviewed say they knew the main suspect as 'Abdulrahman from Casablanca' at the mosque they frequented. IS says Turun Sanomat has reported that the man initially told the immigration authorities that he was Palestinian when he arrived in the country, but IS says it has been unable to confirm this claim with the Finnish Immigration Service.

Olli Töyräs, the inspector leading the investigation, said on Tuesday that the National Bureau of Investigation considers the man Moroccan, but says they are not sure about his identity. They are also trying to assess whether the man is actually 18 years old, as he claims. 

"We've got a name for him, and the media has already published it, but we aren't sure if it is correct. We are doing all we can to figure that out," he told the tabloid.

Urban design to combat terrorism

Finland's most widely-read newspaper Helsingin Sanomat talks about security concerns in urban centres around the world, now that random terrorist attacks targeting crowds are becoming more common. The paper says that while attacks with cars, knives and bombs are impossible to prevent entirely, many officials in major European cities are considering ways in which city planning can be used to mitigate damage.

Helsinki's urban planner Tero Santaoja tells HS that Helsinki has been planning its new residential areas already for years with a good mix of rental and resident-owned properties, for example, to prevent ghettoisation and marginalisation.

But now designers need to start considering safety and security more in their architectural and infrastructure solutions. In Helsinki, for example, concrete barriers were recently placed in front the popular Church in the Rock tourist destination and other landmarks, and bollards surround the new Parliament building – an inkling of what is to come for several institutions in the city.

Turku University researcher Sari Puustinen says traffic barriers, gates and increased security have many downsides. They are expensive to erect and complicate delivery, maintenance and safety operations. They also drive the public away.

"The intention is good, but the effect is often the opposite of what was wanted," she tells HS. "If a place is seen as unsafe, then people begin to avoid it. Then it really does become unsafe because natural monitoring of the area is reduced."

Speeding down

Freesheet Helsingin Uutiset focuses on a recent campaign to catch speeding motorists in the capital city region.

Police in Helsinki conducted an enhanced 24-hour anti-speeding crackdown from 6 am Wednesday until the next morning at 6 am. Automatic cameras mounted on poles and in 24 mobile monitoring units flashed 440 times during this period, yet the overall catch of drivers going over the speed limit was down significantly from last year's campaign, when 735 lead-footed motorists were caught in the act.

Dennis Pasterstein, director of the Police's Traffic Safety Centre, tells the paper that speeding is down in Helsinki, as this year's marathon results clearly show. He credits the downward trend to lower thresholds for administering speeding fines and higher speeding tickets. The Finnish Police report that speeding is down throughout the country from last year, with over 5,000 offenders in 2015 dropping to 4,000 in 2016.

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