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Monday’s papers: Lenient sentences, workaholic foreign minister, questionable refereeing

The press looks at prison time for violent crimes, changes at the foreign ministry, and Finland's footballers' bad luck.

Jalkapallo-ottelu Suomi - Italia Tampereella.
Finland's dejected goalkepper Lukas Hradecky after his side's 2-1 loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 qualifying game. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Tabloid Iltalehti looks at the sentences handed down to those convicted in Finland of violent crimes, such as aggravated assault, attempted murder or murder. The paper quotes ex-chief detective Juha "Hermo" Rautaheimo, who has just written a new book detailing his 40 years with the Finnish police investigating serious crimes, as saying that sentences in Finland are too lenient.

"It seems that in this country, another person can be beaten or stabbed to death almost without legal consequences," Rautaheimo told IL, adding that often the time served is only 10 to 20 percent of the maximum possible sentence.

In order to substantiate Rautaheimo’s claims, the tabloid compared maximum sentences with how much actual time convicted criminals spend behind bars across Finland, and found some large discrepancies.

Those convicted of aggravated assault spend on average between 21 months and 30 months in jail, according to the tabloid’s findings. For attempted murder, the average time spent in prison for convictions between 2009 and 2017 ranges from three to four and a half years.

The "duracell bunny" Minister

Main daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on the changes taking place at Finland’s foreign ministry, especially since Pekka Haavisto took over from previous incumbent Timo Soini as Foreign Minister.

According to HS, Haavisto is well-known as a hard worker from his two previous ministerial terms, as Minister of the Environment and Development from 1995 to 1999, and as Minister of Development from 2013 to 2014, and his appointment elicited a mixed reaction from civil servants at the ministry.

"I didn't hear any flurry of joy, but he is very ambitious," one long-serving official told HS on condition of anonymity. Another reported that Haavisto’s appointment was greeted with lots of "weary faces", but that at least now "there is plenty to do".

And there certainly is plenty to do. According to HS, Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s programme for government contained significantly more foreign policy projects than Juha Sipilä's previous government. These include the positioning of climate change as a government priority, the role of women and girls in developing countries, and an increased emphasis on cooperation between Nordic and EU countries.

Little wonder then that Haavisto has been issuing instructions to underlings in the middle of the night, adding to his notoriety as a ministerial "duracell bunny", HS writes.

Finland denied by questionable refereeing decision

Many papers carry reports of Finland’s national football team’s heroic - and many argue unlucky - defeat to Italy in the European Championship qualifying game in Tampere on Sunday night.

According to Tampere daily Aamulehti, Finland last beat the four-time World Cup winning Italians in 1912, but went into this game full of confidence having won all four of their previous games at the Ratina stadium.

Finland’s goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky kept the free-flowing Italians at bay with some fine saves in the first half, but he was finally beaten by a 59th minute header from Italy’s talismanic striker Ciro Immobile.

Finland rallied, and star player Teemu Pukki won and then converted a 72nd minute penalty to make the score 1-1 - despite the best attempts of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to put him off.

Finland did not stay on level terms for long however, as Scottish referee Robert Madden awarded a penalty to Italy just seven minutes later after he deemed Finnish defender Sauli Väisäsen had deliberately blocked a shot with his hand.

The decision was not popular among the Finnish fans in the stadium, nor did it appear to be supported anywhere in the Finnish press. Aamulehti’s article contains a video of the controversial decision, and the paper asked readers to give their opinion.

Italy’s Chelsea midfielder Jorginho scored from the spot to give Italy all three points. Finland remain second in the qualifying group, with two huge games coming in October against fourth placed Bosnia and Herzegovina and third placed Armenia.

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