On Tuesday the Kymenlaakso District Court sentenced a Finnish army officer to pay fines over his ill-advised comments on President Tarja Halonen, made to conscripts of the Karelia Brigade in February of this year.
The senior lieutenant was found guilty of negligent performance of his duty.
The 43-year-old officer will have to pay 20 day-fines, totalling EUR 640.
When some conscripts made too much noise during a weapons training exercise that he was supervising, the senior lieutenant was alleged to have said that President Tarja Halonen was unsuited for her official post of Commander-in-Chief [of the Finnish Defence Forces], as she is a woman and the former chairwoman of the Finnish sexual equality organisation SETA. He also said that he regarded homosexuality as a disease.
The officer in turn said that he had merely commented said after the conscripts’ disturbing chatter that ”you must not go holding any workplace meetings here, even though Commander-in-Chief Tarja Halonen is a Social Democrat and the former chairwoman of SETA”.
He said that he did not mean to offend Halonen. Nevertheless, the court regarded the witness statements from three conscripts as more reliable.
The District Court noted that the offence occurred while on duty and while training conscripts, which is why it can be considered harmful from the perspective of national defence.
However, the court ruled that the senior lieutenant’s comments were spontaneous and careless, rather than deliberate.