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True crime event overhauled over claims of disrespect for victims

The event has been condemned for dishonouring victims of crime and for glorifying criminals.

Keskuskirjasto Oodi
Helsinki's flagship library Oodi is the new venue for the controversial event. Image: Lukas Rusk / Yle

Finland’s first "true crime" event scheduled for mid-August has had to undergo a major shake-up following objections to the originally-planned programme of activities.

The event was billed as offering members of the public the opportunity to get closer to robbers, escaped convicts and murderers during visits to crime scenes and at a "meet and greet" dinner with offenders and crime writers.

However these elements of the event have since been scrubbed from the programme following widespread criticism.

According to reporting by main daily Helsingin Sanomat and tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, the planned event has been condemned as unethical for glorifying criminals while dishonouring victims and their families.

Jan Erola, a veteran in the local publishing field, told Yle that true crime is becoming more mainstream and commercial.

"When you’re at an event in which a convicted murderer acts as a guide at the scene of his crimes, you’re in quite deep. My first reaction was to get chills," he commented.

One of the site visits would have been led by Janne Raninen, who was convicted over a double murder in Vuosaari in eastern Helsinki. Raninen is listed as one of the organisers of the event and is still serving time for what was said to be an execution.

Original location swapped for Helsinki's Oodi

Initially attendees would have had to pay for the event, but it is now free and patrons who have already paid for tickets will receive a refund. The original location of the main events has also been changed from Hanasaari in Espoo to Helsinki’s new flagship library, Oodi.

Raninen told Ilta-Sanomat that Hanasaari had received negative feedback and no longer wanted to host the true crime experience.

The programme will include speeches by novelists who have written about their past crimes and how they came to chronicle them. A panel discussion featuring crime journalists will also take place as originally planned.

New aspects of the revised programme will include a performance by a rap artist and an address by a victim support official.

In July Raninen told Yle that the purpose of the event was to prevent crime. He added that literature and writing about crime were at the heart of the programme, rather than criminals themselves.

"I hope that young people don’t make the same mistakes that I did and cause suffering to the victims and their families."

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