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Police launch criminal probe into Finns Party youth wing tweet

Police said they are investigating the tweet as an ethnic agitation offence and aim to wrap up the probe in a few weeks.

Perussuomalaisten ilmapallo.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Helsinki police have launched a preliminary investigation into a tweet shared and later deleted by the youth wing of the nationalist Finns Party during the European Parliament election campaign.

Helsinki police investigation lead Chief Inspector, Pekka Hätönen, said that the department decided to begin the probe a few days ago.

"We discussed the matter with a prosecutor on Friday. We decided to begin the investigation," Hätönen told Yle.

The tweet depicted an immigrant family and bore the text, "Vote for the Finns Party if you don’t want Finland’s future to look like this."

Last week, Finns Party youth arm deputy chair Toni Jalonen owned up to posting the tweet, which fired up social media.

Police considering two suspects

Hätönen said that investigators have two suspects under consideration. One is the individual who posted the tweet, while the other suspect commented on it.

"In practice it’s a pretty straightforward investigation. We will question two people," the police chief remarked, adding that the offence is being investigated as ethnic agitation.

Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho previously said that the party’s youth organisation is a small group who "are in the wrong party".

This year the youth arm received 115,000 euros in state support. Following the youth wing member's tweet, the Ministry of Education and Culture - which oversees that funding - has said that it is considering what action to take. Ministries have the discretion to withhold funding for a group they support if it's found that the organisation has broken the law.

The youth wing has since said that the tweet was "ill-advised" and "thoughtless". Police said that they hoped to wrap up the investigation in a few weeks.

Several of the party's politicians, including Halla-aho, have been suspected or convicted of hate speech in the past.

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