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Perussuomalaiset MEP’s diplomatic passport claim creates mystery

Published : 28 Jul 2020, 19:49

Updated : 29 Jul 2020, 00:38

  DF Report

Member of Parliament Teuvo Hakkarainen. Photo Finnish parliament by Kimmo Brandt.

A mystery has been created by the claims of Member of European Parliament (MEP) Teuvo Hakkarainen of the opposition Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party) that he has a diplomatic passport, although the authorities concerned said they had not issued it, reported the national broadcaster Yle.

Hakkarainen, who has a background of convictions in several cases, including sexual abuse, told the Yle about his plan to travel to Honduras via Mexico and Guatemala to meet a female friend amidst the coronavirus restrictions, claiming that he had been provided with a diplomatic passport to make the trip.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry said it has not issued him a diplomatic passport and the European Parliament also confirmed to Yle that MEPs are not generally provided with diplomatic passports.

In an interview with the Yle during the last weekend, the lawmaker first said that he was going to Honduras and that he had been provided with a diplomatic passport and this week he confirmed to Yle again about having a diplomatic passport, although he did not show any evidence in support of his claim.

Hakkarainen told the Yle that he was issued a diplomatic passport because he is a member of the European Parliament's working group on Latin America and that he is planning to travel to Honduras via Mexico and Guatemala.

In addition to a specific regulation, issuance of a diplomatic passport is regulated by an internal order of the foreign ministry, a copy of which has been obtained by the Yle. It says membership of a committee of the European Parliament is not in itself a basis for issuance of a diplomatic passport.

The ministry has issued about 3,700 diplomatic passports and coronavirus restrictions also apply to diplomatic passports, said the Yle report.

Hakkarainen has a record of several convictions including abusing a lawmaker sexually, chopping down trees illegally while drunk, stealing silverware and wine from a church, drunk driving, speeding, and spreading hatred in social media since 1985.

A court in Helsinki in June 2018 convicted Hakkarainen of assault and sexual harassment in the parliament building. He was given a 45-day fine that amounted to 3,000 euros and ordered to pay 1,400 euros to Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party) lawmaker Veera Ruoho in compensation.

The incident took place in December 2017 in the canteen of the parliament while an evening session was going on in the next door plenary hall. Kokoomus MP Ruoho went to the canteen to get a cup of coffee, when Hakkarainen of the Perussuomalaiset Party hooked Ruoho’s neck with his arm and enforced a kiss on her.

The appeal court, however, later stiffened the sentence to an 80-day fine, which based on Hakkarainen’s income at the time, amounted to 5,440 euros.