On Wednesday, the Helsinki District Court began hearing the case of Ilja Janitskin, founder of the anti-immigrant nationalistic propaganda website MV-lehti.
According to district prosecutor Veli-Mikko Hämäläinen, a total of 90 criminal reports were made in connection with the website, although he noted that the statute of limitations had expired in some cases. Some 30 offences were referred for charges, while others are still being investigated by police, the prosecutor said.
The most serious offences involve aggravated defamation and persecution charges relating to Yle journalist Jessikka Aro, and will form the centrepiece of the trial that began Wednesday morning.
Before the start of the trial, Hämäläinen told media that he intended to seek a prison sentence because of the nature of the charges.
Controversial academic also charged
In addition to Janitskin, charges will also be read to Johan Bäckman, a Finnish academic known for publicly championing Russian child custody rights abroad. Bäckman has been charged with aggravated defamation and harassment.
A third individual is also suspected of aggravated defamation and ethnic agitation as a co-defendant with Janitskin.
Both Bäckman and Janitskin have denied the charges brought against them.
A heavy police presence was on hand to secure the proceedings, which were attended by a large crowd. Apart from a few members of the media, Janitskin’s parents and Aro’s mother were allowed into the courtroom, leaving disgruntled onlookers outside the venue.
Janitskin was extradited by Andorra back to Finland in April.