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One fined, two cleared over disruption of Soldiers of Odin demonstration

One defendant was fined 300 euros while two others had the charges against them dismissed.

File photo. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

A man was found guilty of violent rioting for disrupting a demonstration by the far-right group Soldiers of Odin last May and was fined 300 euros by a Tampere court on Friday.

Two other defendants in the case had the charges against them dismissed.

The accused had been participants in a counter demonstration at the same time that the far-right group was staging a procession in downtown Tampere. Three of the counter demonstrators were charged with leading a violent protest, but the court handed down a verdict on the charge of violent protest. The court said it saw no evidence to support the original charges and dismissed them.

One of the men had been accused of throwing stones and eggs at Soldiers of Odin marchers. The court found that the objects thrown had not harmed anyone and therefore ruled that a fine was a sufficient penalty for the act.

The defendant who was fined denied the charges brought against him. He claimed that he had been collecting stones to prevent others from throwing them. However the court did not believe this argument. He also said that he did not hear when police gave an order for demonstrators to disperse.

Situation escalated rapidly

About 80 people reportedly participated in the Soldiers of Odin demonstration, which took place on 18 May between 5 and 7pm. Organisers had previously notified police of their intention to gather for the purpose.

At the time, police said that towards the end of the demonstration, other parties had disrupted the proceedings by repeatedly shouting and aggravating participants. The situation escalated when the procession reached the park near the old library building, at which point there was a danger of clashes erupting, police said.

"There was provocation. There was some degree of physical contact between different groups. So far there is no indication that anyone was injured at the time," police noted in a statement.

Four people were held in connection with the case, none of them Soldiers of Odin members. Police said that participants in the far-right demonstration were not suspected of any criminal offences.

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