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Haavisto hearing postponed due to Finns Party coronavirus exposure

The proceedings were rescheduled for next week as a precaution after a Finns Party MP tests positive.

Perustuslakivaliokunnan ovi eduskunnassa Helsingissä.
FIle photo of the Constitutional Law Committee's meeting room. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

The Constitutional Law Committee’s hearing into events surrounding Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto’s (Green) handling of the repatriation of Finns living in the al-Hol camp in Syria was postponed on Friday due to the absence of all Finns Party members of the committee.

Finns Party MP Tom Packalén announced earlier on Friday that he had been diagnosed with a coronavirus infection, leading each of his party colleagues who may have been exposed to the virus to cancel their attendance at the hearing.

Committee chair Johanna Ojala-Niemelä (SDP) decided that the proceedings could not go ahead if one parliamentary group was entirely absent.

Ojala-Niemelä rescheduled the hearing for Tuesday of next week, but said this hinged upon a parliamentary investigation into whether the committee’s Finns Party MPs Olli Immonen, Jukka Mäkynen and Sakari Puisto can participate.

Finns Party members met in parliamentary cafeteria without masks

Chair of the Finns Party’s Parliamentary Group Ville Tavio told Yle that two party members of the Constitutional Committee had been in contact with Packalén.

According to Tavio, the representatives had met in the parliamentary cafeteria, and did not wear masks. Tavio refused to name the party members involved.

"They stayed home today as a precaution and will be tested if occupational health officials deem it necessary," Tavio said, adding that the exposures will not affect the activities of the party's parliamentary group, as it is also possible to participate in group meetings remotely.

However, absences may affect the progress of committee work.

"It is considered appropriate that all members should be present when important decisions are made," Tavio said.

The Constitutional Law Committee is investigating whether Haavisto violated his duties as a minister or otherwise acted illegally in relation to the transferring of the then Foreign Ministry’s consular chief, Pasi Tuominen, to a new position.

The transfer followed a disagreement between Haavisto and Tuominen about how those in the al-Hol camp would be assisted in returning to Finland.

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