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Groundless rape accusation sparks threats, fear in Ostrobothnia

On Boxing Day a woman reported to police that she had been raped by two "very dark-skinned" men earlier that night. Despite police later finding the accusations unfounded, the damage had already been done. African asylum seekers in the area now say they have received threats and feel unsafe in Northern Ostrobothnia.

Poliisiauto hälytysajossa.
Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

Shortly after receiving the complaint, police in Ylivieska announced they were looking into accusations made by a woman who said she had been raped by two men in the middle of the night on December 26.

In an announcement of the allegations, police used the same description as the woman, describing the men as having "very dark skin."

Ylivieska Police Chief Inspector Veijo Alavaikko said the investigation was based on the information that they had at the time.

"That is why we decided to publish the suspects' description," Alavaikko said.

However police later determined that the woman's accusations were groundless, and no sexual assault had occurred.

Fear in Northern Ostrobothnia

In the aftermath of the announcement, some African asylum seekers in the area say that they have received threats, have been subject to abuse and do not feel safe.

Now police in Ylivieska have opened a new investigation about the groundless rape accusations and under which circumstances they were made. Police said they will also examine the extent of harm the accusations caused.

"Then we can see if it's a question of criminal charges and a trial," Alavaikko said in a press release.

In the release Alavaikko called on the citizens of Ylivieska to behave calmly and not to blame an entire group of people for unfounded reasons.

6:50 Updated to clarify that police determined that no sexual assault had occurred.

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