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Prosecutor General to probe police pepper spray use at protest

The prosecutor said that at this stage a possible offence under consideration is breach of official duty.

Kuvassa poliisi kaasuttaa mielenosoittajia Helsingissä.
Image: Elokapina

Director of Police Criminal Investigation and special prosecutor in the office of the Prosecutor General Heidi Savurinne, said on Wednesday that she will begin a preliminary probe into police actions during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration in Helsinki on 4 October.

Police came under intense scrutiny at the time for using pepper spray to disperse demonstrators who blocked a city thoroughfare as part of the protest.

You can listen to our All Points North podcast reviewing the pepper spray incident via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

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Audio: Yle

According to the prosecutor’s office, the preliminary probe will examine the grounds for the use of force against the protesters as well as the legality of the police action.

Prosecutor: Other charges may arise

The prosecutor said that at this stage a possible offence under consideration is breach of official duty. Other possible offences will likely materialise during the course of the inquiry, the prosecutor’s office said in a press release.

The special prosecutor will interview witnesses and protesters and will also rely on other accounts of the case.

Since the event, a total of 14 criminal reports have been filed over police conduct during the demonstration.

In addition to criminal complaints lodged with the Prosecutor General’s office, one bystander has requested a police investigation, Savurinne noted.

Last Thursday, the National Police Board released a report following an internal probe into the case and said in a statement that police acted appropriately during the incident.

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