Saturday, 20 April, 2019

Finns Party MP gets tougher sentence for sexual assault

22 Mar 2019, 19:50 ( 28 days ago) | updated: 22 Mar 2019, 23:07 ( 28 days ago)

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

Helsinki Appeals Court on Friday increased the fines given to Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party) MP Teuvo Hakkarainen for sexual harassment and assault.

Hakkarainen had attacked conservative female MP Vera Ruoho in the parliament building in December 2017. At the time, parliament was debating the budget and MP Ruoho had gone to the parliamentary cafeteria to get coffee, when fellow MP Hakkarainen had attacked her.

The court said on Friday it increased the verdict as the violence targeted the head of the victim and took place at her workplace. Fines nearly doubled to 5,440 euros.
   
Prosecutor Eija Velitski had demanded imprisonment and considers appeal to the Supreme Court. Talking to the media, she said that such a grip on the neck could kill. Hakkarainen told local paper Keskisuomalainen on Friday he is not going to appeal.
   
The conviction is the second during Hakkarainen's parliamentary career. In early 2017 he was fined for "instigation against a population group" in a social media entry. 
   
The increased conviction seems to have no restrictive impact on the re-election campaign of Hakkarainen and he remains the most prominent Finns Party candidate in the Central Finland district in the upcoming general election due on April 14.
   
Finland has a multi-MP constituency system. Hakkarainen is running in Central Finland that can elect 10 MPs. Political observers have noted the Finns Party will get one seat and Hakkarainen is the likeliest to get it.
   
Local commentators have said his conviction does not undermine his popularity as his voters are largely people who identify with his attitudes, lifestyle and strong language. The Finns Party Central Finland district nominated him for re-election unanamously when the current process was already on.
   
Hakkarainen's current re-election campaign has raised questions about the legality of his automobile stickers demanding "all asylum tourists out". 
   
Kimmo Nuotio, professor of criminal justice at Helsinki University, told national broadcaster Yle that the words used by Hakkarainen in the ads are "on the brink", but he is not sure whether they would be sufficient for a criminal case.