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Turku stabbing hero faces fresh legal problems over fundraising irregularities

Finnish authorities are now investigating a fundraising campaign set up to help a man who was severely injured in last year's attack.

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A GoFundMe campaign set up for Zubier in December 2017 had managed to raise around 32,000 euros, but has since been taken down. Zubier said the money has already been spent. Image: facebook

Hassan Zubier, a British national who was left partially paralysed after being injured as he tried to chase away the perpetrator of the Turku knife attack last year, faces new scrutiny from Finnish authorities.

A GoFundMe campaign which was set up for Zubier in December of last year managed to raise just over 32,000 euros, but has since been taken down because such fundraisers carried out without the appropriate permits are illegal in Finland.

Zubier said that a woman in Finland had started the campaign and that she told him everything regarding the fundraiser was above-board. He said the woman had contacted him about the crowdfunding effort, and that the woman should have taken care of any necessary permits for it.

A couple of months after the GoFundMe page launched, Zubier was given control of the web page.

"She told me that I did not need any permission. If there is something wrong with the campaign, I did not have anything to do with it," he told Yle.

The woman behind the campaign, Sonya Höstman, said that she merely started the GoFundMe page on behalf of Zubier and had nothing else to do with it. She said she thought that the fundraiser did not require permission from the police.

Up to two years jail possible

According to Finnish law, any group or individual raising money for a charity needs to get permission from the police, and is also required to inform authorities about the nature of the fundraiser.

People who are caught raising money without the appropriate permission can be charged for fundraising crimes or misdemeanour offences. The maximum jail sentence that can be handed out for such violations in Finland is two years, and the crimes can also carry the penalty of fines.

Emmi Tengman, an inspector at the Gambling Administration department of the National Police Board, said that the agency is aware of the fundraising campaign for Zubier.

Legal implications

The National Police Board was not sure whether or not the fundraiser had been granted a permit.

Tengman noted that, according to Finnish law, private individuals are not permitted to collect money for themselves.

Zubier resides in Sweden and has said he's a citizen of both the UK and Sweden. Tengman said that the nationality of the fund raiser does not matter if the money collection is directed towards people in Finland.

She said that GoFundMe campaigns target all users of the internet and said that Zubier's fundraising complies with the criteria for collecting money.

The fundraiser for Zubier was, Tengman said, directed at Finland via a Facebook page titled "For the benefit of Hassan Zubier's family," which was run by the Finnish woman who started the campaign until the page was closed due to recent developments surrounding it.

Money already gone

Zubier told Yle on Thursday that he had already used the donated GoFundMe money on bills, loans, food, a car and diapers.

He said the roughly 32,000-euro sum was gone and if those funds need to be returned to donors, they should be paid back by the woman who started the fundraiser.

The news about Zubier's legal problems in Finland is the second in less than a week.

Zubier's past scrutinised

Earlier this week Zubier admitted to prosecutors that he attached forged documentation to his benefits application to the Finnish state.

Zubier told officials that he misrepresented his work history when applying for damages from the state. He admitted that his documentation on lost earnings from an ambulance company in Sweden was bogus.

Yle reporters also found that in 2001 a Swedish court had convicted Zubier of aggravated arson - among other charges - and sentenced him to eight years in jail.

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