The Supreme Court on Thursday placed a temporary ban on the activities of a neo-Nazi organisation, the Nordic Resistance Movement (PVL). It also allowed the group the right to appeal lower court rulings against it, and said it will issue a final ruling later as to whether the group should be permanently outlawed.
The National Police Board had sought the temporary ban after a district court and an appeals court earlier ordered the group to be dissolved.
The Police Board will now order police departments to intervene in any PVL activity that is observed.
"All of the PVL's activities are now banned. The association may not arrange demonstrations or use its symbols or flags in public. The use of its symbols may be interpreted as activities by a banned organisation," Police Board Chief Inspector Heikki Lausmaa said.
The PVL insists it has operated within the bounds of the freedom of speech and association.
Hate speech and violence
"According to the Police Board, there are grounds to shut the PVL down as it fundamentally operates in violation of the law and accepted principles of morality by, for instance, spreading hate speech about immigrants, sexual minorities and Jews, questioning the Holocaust and glorifying fascists, as well as by approving of violence that has occurred during its operations," the Supreme Court said.
It may take a year before the high court issues its final ruling in the case.
Although the PVL had been ordered to shut down by lower courts, the decisions were not yet legally binding, so it has continued to arrange events. These included a march in Helsinki last October, which police estimated involved around 100 people.
The Police Board filed a brief calling for the organisation to be closed down after one of its leaders, Jesse Torniainen, was imprisoned in late 2016. He was convicted of aggravated assault after attacking a passerby during a PVL demonstration near Helsinki Railway Station. The victim died a few days later.
Pirkanmaa District Court first ordered the PVL to be banned the following year.