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Prosecutors seek permanent ban on United Brotherhood crime group

The alleged head of the crime group described by police as "Finland’s most harmful" went on trial in Porvoo on Monday.

Tero Holopainen ja Ilkka Ukkola saapumassa Porvoon käräjäoikeuden istuntoon.
Alleged United Brotherhood kingpin Tero Holopainen (left) arrived in court on Monday. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

Eastern Uusimaa District Court has opened proceedings in which prosecutors and the National Police Board aim to permanently shut down the organised crime group United Brotherhood (UB) and its affiliate Bad Union.

The alleged ringleader of UB, Tero Holopainen, arrived for the first court hearing in Porvoo on Monday morning.

Holopainen is awaiting sentencing in another major criminal case but is not in pre-trial detention.

The trial, expected to last three days, is to determine whether there is justification for the National Police Board’s demand that the organisation be permanently outlawed.

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Erikoissyyttäjä Anna-Riikka Ruuth ja Poliisihallituksen poliisiylitarkastaja Pekka-Matias Väisänen Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeudessa 8. tammikuuta.
Special Prosecutor Anna-Riikka Ruuth and Police Board Detective Chief Superintendent Pekka-Matias Väisänen during UB proceedings earlier this year. Image: Yle

Special Prosecutor Anna-Riikka Ruuth declared in her opening statement that UB does not have any legal business activities.

Many UB members have been convicted of serious violent and drug offences over the years, and most of them are now behind bars. In January, the district court imposed a temporary ban on the group’s activities and use of its insignia, and extended the prohibition last month.

According to the court’s ruling, UB is a nationally organised crime group that operates hierarchically with a paramilitary organisational structure. It is vehemently anti-authority, seeks to control prison populations and to enrich itself through illegal means.

Police have described UB as "the most harmful" of all criminal groups in Finland.

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Tampereella kotietsintää tehtiin kerhotiloihin perjantaina 6.9.2019.
A United Brotherhood clubhouse in Ylöjärvi, near Tampere. Image: Keskusrikospoliisi

After proceedings aimed at outlawing UB and Bad Union began early this year, the groups claimed that they were halting their activities voluntarily. UB has had operations in at least Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Lahti, Tampere and Turku.

Holopainen denies that he is the leader of UB or that its intent has been to carry out crimes.

Holopainen’s lawyers argued that he is not responsible for other members’ actions, and that crimes committed by members were not done in the name of the group, or to its benefit.

The prosecutor says that Holopainen’s denial that he is the group’s leader is irrelevant, as is the group’s announcement that it was ending its activities.

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