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Prosecutors nix criminal probe into racist posts in secret police Facebook group

The Office of the Prosecutor General has decided not to pursue a criminal investigation into racist posts made by members of a closed police group on Facebook. The district prosecutor assigned to the case says there is no reason to suspect any criminal activity on the part of the police officers involved.

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Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle

District prosecutor in the Office of the Prosecutor General Laura Sairanen says she will not pursue an investigation into racist posts in a closed police group on Facebook. Sairanen handed down her decision in a statement issued Wednesday.

"Based on my findings, no evidence emerged in the case that would warrant a preliminary investigation. There is no reason to suspect that Inspector Marko Forss or any other police officer is guilty of an offence," Sairanen wrote.

Inspector Marko Forss is the head of a police online anti-hate speech task force and was also one of the moderators of the group in which the racist comments were posted. He stepped down as moderator in April, citing his responsibilities in the task force.

He also told the investigative journalism site Long Play that he had personally referred one of the group’s discussions to prosecutors for investigation. Forss was later sacked as head of the hate speech-hunting group.

Three complaints filed over posts

The state prosecutor’s office performed an initial assessment of three criminal complaints filed over the Facebook posts on the basis of legislation governing criminal investigations.

One of the complaints involved Forss’ role as group moderator. However the prosecutor found that since Forss himself had not posted any inappropriate comments. They also found that the material presented did not indicate that he was guilty of any crime as a moderator.

With respect to other complaints regarding the posts themselves, prosecutors determined that the comments did not constitute hate speech. They also noted that the comments had been posted in a closed group and were not public. However they noted that certain individual comments could be classified as slander.

In June Long Play reported that some members of a secret Facebook group with nearly 3,000 serving and former police officers had been engaging in openly racist discussions. The investigative journalism site had received more than 100 screenshots as proof of the nature of the comments.

The police criminal justice unit of the Office of the Prosecutor general is responsible for investigating suspected offences committed by police officers.

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