The terrorism case in the small town of Kankaanpää in the region of Satakunta, originally involved five suspected members of a neo-Nazi group. On 10 January, Deputy Prosecutor General Jukka Rappe charged two of the suspects with crimes committed with terrorist intent.
The case marks the first time charges have ever been filed against a far-right group in Finland.
Three other three men previously suspected of involement in terrorist activity were also charged with offenses, but are no longer accused of crimes with terrorist intent. Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has reversed its decision to freeze their assets.
According to the deputy prosecutor, several of the suspected crimes of the Kankaanpää group are linked to the racist and neo-Nazi ideology adopted by the group’s core members.
Denies right-wing extremism
An Yle investigation into the gang’s activities revealed an extensive list of crimes committed by its members, with interviewees reporting the gang were known to harass, intimidate and even violently attack people in the town over the course of a number of years.
Many of these incidents involved victims from minority backgrounds, police said.
During the course of the preliminary investigation, police confiscated several weapons from the terror cell, including an assault rifle and sawn-off shotguns, as well as dynamite and fertiliser containing the explosive ammonium nitrate.
One of the men suspected in the case contacted Yle’s Finnish-language service and denied being a neo-Nazi or far-right extremist. The man communicated the same message to Yle through an intermediary as early as in 2021.
The man’s story is supported by the decision not to prosecute him. A preliminary investigation found no evidence that the man was specifically familiar with violent far-right ideology or trained to commit terrorist crimes.
The man declined to be interviewed by telephone, but answered Yle’s questions by email. His identity has been confirmed by Yle.
Acquaintances since primary school
The man says he has known the other suspects since primary school, but claims there is nothing ideological about his contact with them.
“It is not my habit to associate only with people who agree with me on everything,” he writes.
According to the man, the police did not find any material in his possession that could be classified as extreme right-wing.
“I am, and always have been, opposed to authoritarianism and to the undermining and violation of civil rights and individual freedoms in all their forms, whatever the group of people concerned,” he stated.
Previous investigations by Yle have not revealed that he has been convicted or even fined for anything other than traffic offences in the past.
The criminal case of the two of the suspects being charged with crimes committed with terrorist intent is pending before the Satakunta District Court, but the proceedings have not yet started.