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Thursday’s papers: Major corruption scandal in Helsinki, Social Democrats reject Nato, celebrity sex tape trial continues

Thursday's dailies are heavy on corruption and sex scandals. A high-ranking city official is accused of embezzling millions of euros meant to fund computers in schools, and presenter Axl Smith is facing criminal charges for non-consensual taping. Meanwhile, according to opinion polls, Antti Rinne is set to continue as party leader.

Salakatselusta syytetty tv-juontaja Axl Smith saapuu Helsingin käräjäoikeuteen 18. tammikuuta.
Axl Smith. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Leading daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on a major corruption scandal in the city of Helsinki’s Education Department. A high-ranking city official has been arrested on charges of aggravated embezzlement and malfeasance.

The suspect is accused of stealing millions of euros meant to provide schools with IT supplies, such as computers and tablets.

Police told HS that this is the largest corruption case in the history of the municipality of Helsinki.

The suspected crimes happened between 2006 and 2016, when the suspect worked as the Education Department's chief information officer. He was in charge of the provision of IT supplies. Helsingin Sanomat reports the department has used over 55 million euros on said supplies between 2006 and 2015.

Minerva Krohn, the chair of Helsinki’s local education committee, says the case is ”absolutely shocking”, as it has directly hindered the digitalisation of the capital’s schools.

In line with Yle's editorial line on criminal cases, Yle is not publishing the name of the suspect, although he is named in other media.

SDP's Antti Rinne leading polls for next party chair

The Social Democratic party (SDP) is due to vote for a new leader in their upcoming party congress this February, and the race for the chairmanship has been well covered by most media.

According to a poll published by Lännen Media, 58.5 per cent of party influencers stand behind current chairman Antti Rinne as he runs for his second term, regional papers Aamulehti and Turun Sanomat report. Rinne's opponents Timo Harakka and Tytti Tuppurainen received the support of 27.3 and 14.2. per cent of respondents respectively.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of SDP members, 90.7 per cent, want their party in government, along with the Left Alliance and the Greens. Over 92.8 per cent would leave the Finns Party out of government.

The poll also revealed a third of SDP members would support NATO membership, with a majority voting against it. Harakka and Rinne have explicitly stated they are against joining NATO, while Tuppurainen would consider joining the alliance if neighbouring Sweden does.

Axl Smith's sex tape scandal goes to court

Tabloid newspaper Ilta-Sanomat sheds light on presenter and entertainer Axl Smith's voyeur sex tape court case. Smith arrived to the Helsinki district court yesterday, Wednesday, to face allegations that he used hidden cameras in his bedroom to record sex acts. In addition, Smith is accused of four cases of defamation and two cases of breach of privacy.

The 33 plaintiffs aged 20-32 accusing Smith of non-consensual filming will be heard individually during the 11-day court hearings. The victims' prosecutors have stated their clients have felt violated, humiliated and anxious during the process.

Prosecutors are claiming over 100 000 euros worth of damages and probation.

Smith is suspected of recording over 400 videos, and sharing some of the salacious material on a WhatsApp group. In prior hearings the presenter has said he recorded the material in order to secure his own safety and prove his innocence, in case he was charged of sexual crimes such as rape.

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