EuroMayDay defendants admit graffiti, say vandalism charges too severe
All defendants in a trial connected with events during May Day revelry three years ago deny charges of aggravated vandalism that they face.
At Helsinki District Court on Tuesday, most of the defendants admitted to graffiti and causing damage, but felt that the charges should be thrown out because of the time that has elapsed.
District Prosecutor Ari Silvennoinen read out charges against 11 young men and one woman on Tuesday.
One of the defendants did not show up at court.
According to the charges, the defendants used felt tip pens and spray paint to write graffiti on walls in the centre of Helsinki, and broke and scratched the windows of businesses during the EuroMayDay demonstrations in the centre of Helsinki on the evening of April 30th, 2006.
The demonstration was arranged to protest economic inequalities.
Silvennoinen is calling for prison sentences for four of the defendants, and either suspended sentences or fines for the rest.
The prosecutor says that as the defendants committed the acts together, the damage caused by them should be assessed as a single whole. This means that if convicted, they would be jointly responsible for any compensation for the estimated tens of thousands of euros in damage that was caused.
Eight of the defendants admitted to drawing some graffiti, or doing other individual acts. They feel that they should be held responsible only for their own acts, and maintain that the violation in their case should be moderate vandalism, or vandalism - both crimes in which the statute of limitations has run out.
Three of the defendants have denied committing any acts of vandalism, and one denies taking part in the whole demonstration.
Before Tuesday’s court session a group of about ten demonstrators gathered in front of the courthouse to lend support to the defendants.
One of the demonstrators, Vuokko Viljanen, sees the trial as a miscarriage of justice.
“It cannot be proven that this group was responsible for everything”, Viljanen said.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Police wish to remand two men over May Day Eve riots (4.5.2006)
Police searching for "organised core group" in Sunday night’s melee at storehouses (3.5.2006)
Riot police battle crowds throwing stones and lighting fires on May Day Eve (2.5.2006)