|www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english||print | close window|
Three men charged with Helsinki Pride gas attack
Prosecutor demands prison sentences for the three accused
Legal proceedings against the suspected perpetrators of the gas attack against the Helsinki Pride gay rights parade in July 2010 began at the Helsinki District Court on Monday.
During the parade, several marchers were attacked with pepper spray and tear gas.
Police believe that the number of individuals participating in the assault was in fact larger, but the prosecutor has managed to press charges only against three of them.
The three suspects were indicted for 88 counts of assault, possession of an object or substance which can be used to harm another person, 71 counts of violation against freedom of political action, and prevention of assembly.
The prosecutor is demanding a suspended prison sentence for each defendant. According to the prosecutor, the motive for the attack was the sexual orientation of the participants in the Pride parade, which will have to have an influence on the severity of the verdict.
The victims demand that the motive of hatred should be used as a basis to aggravate the penalty. Their combined claims for compensation amount to some tens of thousands of euros.
The defendants admitted to the assaults and the possession of an object or substance which can be used to harm another person, but denied all other charges.
The accused also deny that there were any motives related to the sexual orientation of the marchers behind the crime.
The preliminary investigations reveal that when interrogated the men did not confess to belonging to any extreme organisation, but one of them admitted that he is a skinhead.
The suspects insisted that they had no political motive, claiming that the attack took place on impulse and it was not planned beforehand.
The men explained their possession of pepper spray and tear gas by their need for self-defence.
During house searches, the police found in the men’s homes or temporary lodgings plenty of skinhead material, as well as material related to neo-nazism and football hooliganism.