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Tuesday's papers: Iraqi twins' appeal trial, a discriminatory ad and poisonous mushrooms

Finland's newspapers today discuss the appeal trial of two Iraqi men, police investigation into a questionable rental ad, and the pitfalls of mushroom season.

Kärpässieni
Most people know that this mushroom is poisonous, but other white-coloured poisonous mushrooms are harder to distinguish from their safe equivalents. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

The Pori-based newspaper Satakunnan Kansa starts out our review this Tuesday with a story on today's start of a Turku Appeals Court trial of Iraqi twins suspected of killing 11 people near the Iraqi city of Tikrit.

Iraq has requested that the two men be extradited back to their home country, but Finland has not agreed to this, as the suspects would face the death penalty there. International agreements require Finland to try people accused of serious crimes, even if the crime is not linked to the country in any way, says Finland's Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen.

The paper reports that the costs of trying the Iraqi twins in Finland has already grown to at least 470,000 euros. After a four-month trial in 2017, a court in Tampere found insufficient evidence to charge the men, after which the then-Deputy Prosecutor General of Finland Toiviainen appealed the case to the higher court.

Court documents explain that in June 2014 the terror group ISIS took over the cities of Mosul and Tikrit as well as the nearby Camp Speicher military base. ISIS captured some 1500 Iraqi soldiers, including new conscripts. In the days that followed, more than 1,000 of them were killed. The twin brothers, born in 1992, are both believed to have taken part in the massacre, with at least one of them suspected of killing 11 people. The brothers were identified by their fellow asylum seeker reception centre inhabitants on an ISIS video of the atrocity, and were taken into custody in Finland in December 2015.

The paper writes that if the brothers are not convicted, they will both likely be entitled to some 50,000 euros in compensation for criminal damages, whereas a lifetime prison sentence would cost Finland over one million euros per prisoner.

Finnish renters only, thank you

The tabloid Iltalehti features a story on a rental ad that might lead to criminal charges. A district prosecutor has decided to open a preliminary investigation into an ad that appeared on the real estate platform Oikotie on June 4. The ad is from the owner of a duplex in the southern city of Lahti that was looking for a new renter to fill one half of the property.

"Rental property available to Finnish, long-term, trustworthy renter who has lived in a detached home. People using social services need not apply; pets by arrangement. Credit history will be checked," the ad said.

The ad was traced to a person who works as an inspector for the Häme Police Department.

The paper quotes the prosecutor as saying that the terms used in the notification fulfilled the criteria for discrimination enough to warrant the start of a criminal investigation. The conditions that the applicant be Finnish-only and not use social services will be specifically examined. He says the suspected police inspector has the necessary permits to work as a real estate broker as a second line of business, and so no crimes are suspected in this area.

IL reports that the ad was removed shortly after it appeared on Oikotie, but a reporter at the tabloid took a screen shot that included the contact information of the suspect. The Salpausselkä Prosecutor's Office will make the final decision about whether or not to press charges.

Foreigners confused by Finnish mushrooms

And the Turku-based newspaper Turun Sanomat has a story on an uptick in mushroom poisoning, particularly among newcomers to the country.

Several mild mushroom poisoning cases are reported each autumn in Finland, especially when the season provides a bountiful crop. Serious cases are rare but dangerous, as they can do permanent damage to the liver.

HUS hospital's chief physician Helena Isoniemi tells the paper that poisonings due to the white mushroom fungus Amanita phalloides, also known as the death cap, are on the rise in Finland, particularly among foreigners who are not familiar with all of Finland's mushroom varieties.

"They don't take care with white mushrooms; they think they are common champignon mushrooms. The incidence of serious mushroom poisonings is tied to the crop each year. If it’s a good year for mushrooms, there are more poisonings," she tells the paper.

Another dangerous white mushroom that is common in Finland is the Amanita virosa, commonly known in Europe as the destroying angel. Ingesting even a small amount of this mushroom can cause liver damage.

Depending on the amount eaten, the symptoms of mushroom poisoning usually take effect within a few hours. Typically these include nausea, dizziness, a headache, vomiting and diarrhea.

Instead of taking the time to learn to identify each of Finland's poisonous mushrooms, the TS story advises people who gather mushrooms in Finnish forests to stick with a few common edible mushrooms that are easy to distinguish from their more dangerous counterparts.

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