The tabloid Iltalehti broke the news late yesterday evening that "material suggesting child pornography" had been found in the Finnish singing celebrity Jari Sillanpää's home. A Finnish court found Sillanpää guilty of possession and distribution of methamphetamine on August 17.
IL reports that investigators discovered the material on a camera memory card during a March 25 search of Sillanpää's home, and proceeded to open a secret investigation into his connection to the incriminating evidence. The 8 GB memory card was found in a camera bag on the floor of the former tango king's bedroom. The tabloid says that according to its knowledge, the material on the memory card "apparently originated in Thailand and at least one other country".
Sillanpää's computer and two phones were also seized, and IL says the report on their confiscation reads that the phones' data was investigated and the "deleted files were traced." Investigators of the drug crimes copied all of the material they found and sent it to the unit of the Finnish police that deals with sexual crimes and domestic violence. A so-called R document was opened on the case, which means that enough evidence was found to start a preliminary investigation.
Major daily Helsingin Sanomat carries an article this morning that says Sillanpää has come forward to say he knew nothing about the material found in his flat. The paper links a late-night Facebook status update from the singer saying "Give me strength – I have never seen the photos or videos the police have in their possession."
SDP holding on to its top position
HS continues today's coverage with the results of its latest political opinion poll. As with the latest Yle poll from late July and early August, the HS poll suggests that the top party among Finnish voters is the Social Democratic Party.
The paper concludes that the lack of movement over the last few polls indicates that the SDP should feel pretty confident with its lead, even if it is down slightly from 22 percent to 21.7 percent. If voters maintain current positions until April's parliamentary elections, it will be enough to hand the SDP the prime minister's position, HS says.
The centre-right National Coalition Party (NCP) holds on to second place, with 20.2 percent of the vote, and the Centre Party is down to 15.3, with the Greens on their tail at 13.2. For the rest of the parties, things haven't changed. Despite "praise showering down across party lines" for chair Li Andersson, the Left Alliance still posts only 9.8 support in HS's latest survey, with the Finns Party at 7.8 percent and the Blue Reform splinter group netting only 1.3 percent support.
HS writes that the government's Centre-NCP-Blue coalition has to hammer out a 2019 budget next week, an unforgiving task considering how little room to manoeuvre the slight upturn in the Finnish economy has created. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has promised tax relief, but there is some infighting within the government about how the breaks should be targeted. The fate of the regional and health services reform also hangs in the balance.
More than one-third, 36 percent, of the 2,412 people polled in the HS survey said they were confident about which party they'd vote for in the upcoming elections, while another 36 percent answered that they didn't know. The margin of error of the Kantar TNS survey results for the larger political parties in the survey is two percentage points in either direction.
Road fees in Finland's future?
And then to the Turku-based newspaper Turun Sanomat, that features a story on how the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy ETLA has made a case for introducing road usage fees in Finland. A brief from the think tank says that Finland could keep up with rising transport infrastructure by "preparing a road user fee system based on a modern positioning technology".
ETLA argues that the shift to electric cars in Finland will take away tax revenue from motor fuel sales. In preparation for this loss of income, the think tank says the next government should start laying the groundwork for a fee-based system that targets congestion.
"The market share of electric vehicles is just a few percentage points now, but the situation will be very different in just ten years' time," ETLA research director Niku Määttänen tells the Lännen Media syndicate. "The money generated by road fees could be used to improve the public transport system."
The paper writes that Transport Minister Anne Berner made a similar appeal for road user charges to be rolled out about two years ago. Her plan at the time was to tie the fees to the establishment of a transport network company that would sell customers a time-based "right to road use". The cost of the right would have been determined by a vehicle's CO2 emissions or the amount of kilometers driven.