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Wednesday's papers: Strasbourg shooting, Slush harassment, remote court

Young Finns narrowly miss a deadly shooting, a startup carnival turns dirty and new laws could mean attending court from your living room.

Ranskalainen poliisi seisoo vartiossa Strasbourgissa tiistai-iltana 11. joulukuuta. Takana monivärinen joulukuusi.
Armed police and soldiers engaged the gunman with fire but the assailant managed to escape. Image: Sebastien Bozon / AFP

Finnish newspapers devote prime real estate to coverage of a shooting attack at a popular Christmas market on Tuesday in the French city of Strasbourg, where officials say at least three people were killed and a dozen others were injured.

The gunman, who was known to authorities, is believed to be still on the loose although injured following an exchange of fire with soldiers and armed police. France has since tightened border controls and stepped up its security alert level to "emergency attack".

Tabloid daily Ilta-Sanomat relates the experiences of a group of Espoo teens from the Olari upper secondary school who visited the site just moments before the assailant opened fire. Teacher Anna Ravila accompanied the group of 19 students on the class trip. She told IS that the ninth graders had joined the Balade Nocturne walking tour of the city and had visited the famous Christmas attraction right before the fatal incident played out. They heard of the tragedy as they sat down to a meal at their hostel.

IS and other media also report Wednesday that Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho was among Europarliamentarians who continued working indoors after the Parliament was placed on lock down amid heightened security.

Slush tries to clean up

Meanwhile another tabloid, Iltalehti covers Finland’s hippest annual startup event, Slush, which is under scrutiny over reports of sexual harassment. According to IL, the speed dating event for unicorns, investors and young growth companies has been dogged by the shadow of inappropriate behaviour for some time and this year was no different.

The paper alludes to complaints involving inappropriate touching as well as verbal advances that also affected many of the underage volunteers hoping to gather much-needed work experience by performing support duties at the event. In some cases, IL writes, minors had reportedly been propositioned with money to visit hotel rooms.

Slush chief executive Andreas Saari told the daily that he had received information about different cases of alleged harassment from various sources during the past week since the event wrapped up. Saari said that personnel had dealt with some reports immediately on site, while the organisation is still investigating others. Saari noted that concrete action has been taken in some cases as two people have been banned from the event.

According to IL, this year organisers aimed to minimise the risk of inappropriate behaviour by ensuring that the event location was more open and by hiring more security staff. The Slush chief was unable to say if the problem had worsened since last year but pointed out that the current climate has made it easier for organisers to act on suspected cases of harassment.

Court at home? Possible in 2019

Parties to certain court proceedings might be able to participate from home as a result of new legislation taking effect from the beginning of next year. Coming off the presses in Turku, southwestern Finland, daily Turun Sanomat reports that the use of video links for court hearings will broaden to include a range of new locations where the connections can legally be created – including your living room.

"Participating from home is one option if the nature of the case permits. The new law does not define where people can take part," said Pekka Määttä, a legal official with the Kainuu district court in eastern Finland. Määttä had a hand in drafting the new law and explained that it requires remote links to include audio and video connections and specifies that remote locations and conditions should be suitable for a court hearing.

However it will still be up to a presiding court to decide whether or not a remote link-up is suitable. All parties to a matter would also have to agree on the option. Määttä pointed out that the nature of certain cases might require officials to specify the site of a remote connection. Such locations could include a different court, a police station, a legal aid office, or a prison.

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