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Monday's papers: Key witness in Turku stabbing trial leaves country, private health care woos small towns, and kids online

Monday papers discuss the whereabouts of a key witness in the trial of Abderrahman Bouanane, the 'sote' fears of small municipalities, and children's exposure to questionable content.

Aberrahman Bouanane
The trial of Abderrahman Bouanane continues in Turku Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Newspapers in Finland start the week with news that a key witness in the trial of Turku knife attacker Abderrahman Bouanane has left the country. District prosecutor Hannu Koistinen confirmed that the witness was no longer in Finland, but said he still was hopeful that the man would be returned to Turku to testify. The person in question was a childhood friend of Bouanane and had also lived with him as his roommate for a time in Finland. The 21-year-old Moroccan was expected to offer key testimony about the suspect's radicalization last summer, among other things.

The tabloid reports that the key witness could have voluntarily left Finland or he could have been deported. Prosecutors in the case were reportedly prepared for the fact that he might leave.

The trial of Abderrahman Bouanane continues today in Turku with more testimony from the victims of the August 2017 stabbing spree that killed two people and wounded several more. Tomorrow the defendant is expected to take the stand.

Roommate watched his friend become radicalized

Finland's largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat continues the story with more details, saying that the key witness had grown up with Bouanane in Casablanca and that they made the trip to Europe together.

During the preliminary investigation into the case, he had told the Finnish authorities that Bouanane had become radicalized last summer during the Muslim month of fasting known as Ramadan. He said that the suspect started going to the mosque daily and prayed late into the night.

"He stopped laughing during Ramadan and wasn't happy anymore. He didn't speak very much any longer. When he did say something, it was usually something about ISIS being right," the key witness had told the police in early days.

Smaller towns concerned about keeping their local services

The Tampere-based newspaper Aamulehti reports on the trouble many smaller municipalities might face with the roll-out of the government's social and health care reform, if it passes a looming parliamentary vote.

The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities tells AL that some of the contracts currently in use between municipalities and private service providers might not comply with the new rules once they take effect.

"Very complex contractual arrangements and problems are surely in the pipeline," says the association's legal counsel Arto Sulonen.

He says the reform would transfer the administrative duties entirely to new regional government bodies, so municipalities could no longer be even part-owners in the services provided, for example.

Many of the smaller 311 municipalities in Finland are fearful that their social and health care services will be taken away or downsized in the overhaul. Most have received offers from private sector service providers, such as Mehiläinen, Attendo, Pihlajalinna or Terveystalo, that want to move in and take responsibility for the area's services or buy the social and health care properties in the town, for example.

Sulonen estimates that between 20 and 30 smaller cities have already arranged for this to happen. His association tells AL that many smaller municipalities are concerned about a chain reaction: if services are moved to a bigger neighbouring town, then jobs and tax income will likely leave with them.

Tell your kids what real sex is like

And then on to the Jyväskylä-based paper Keskisuomalainen which looks at children's access to pornography, a story from the news agency STT that was picked up by several papers in Finland this Monday.

It is very common these days for young children to be exposed to pornography, says Raisa Cacciatore, author and children's psychiatrist for the Family Federation of Finland. She says that porno can be hard for children to understand, and many will find it distressing and frightening, causing them trauma.

"A survey of day care personnel found that 88 percent of the staff was worried about children being exposed to too much information at too young an age," Cacciatore tells KSML.

She says she provides therapy to many people who saw pornography as children and are still suffering the effects of the trauma as adults. She encourages parents to talk about sex with their children and explain that the clips are "a voluntary performance that is meant to have shock value." The psychiatrist tells the paper that it is good that parents explain that no one is really hurt or made to do things they don't want in most porno productions.

She says that instead of strict rules about what children can watch online, it is more important to maintain a dialogue so children can ask their parents about anything they might come across that disturbs them. Cacciatore tells KSML that it is equally important that parents talk about sex in a positive light with their children.

"That sex brings pleasure and stimulates the senses. And that both partners are willing and want to do the things that take place, and that both always reserve the right to say 'no' to something."

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