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Courts dismiss charges against police informer possessing large quantity of heroin
Kouvola Court of Appeals has allowed a man found to have been in possession of nearly a kilo of heroin to go free without punishment because he had operated as a police informer.
The only public document in the matter that was handled behind closed doors was a prosecution request for an appeal to the Supreme Court, which the court rejected. According to the document, the reason for the impunity was that the man who had been caught with the heroin had cooperated with the Helsinki drug police.
The case dates back to the early years of the new century. Both Lahti District Court and the Kouvola Court of Appeals decided in favour of impunity. The prosecution had called for a six-year prison sentence for the defendant.
The trials were public, but toward the end of the Court of Appeals proceedings, the court records were ordered sealed until 2022 at the request of the defendant.
The Finnish News Agency STT applied to see the prosecution request for an appeal to the Supreme Court. The document unexpectedly had not been declared confidential.
A journalist of the news department of the Nelonen got the Supreme Court to release the application for a right to appeal, which had previously been ordered confidential, in 2008. The matter was reported in the news, but it did not raise public debate at the time.
According to the application the man was caught with 481.3 grams of heroin packed in small packages. In the days that followed, he revealed where another 510 grams were hidden.
The prosecutor in the case said that the man intended to sell the drug. The defendant told Lahti police that he had started dealing in heroin in order to amass information for the Helsinki Police.
The Helsinki drug police confirmed in court that the man had worked together with the drug squad. The STT reported that the police witness invoked the right to not to disclose information when asked what kinds of instructions the man had been given.
The defendant acquired the heroin when the officer with whom he was working was on holiday. The man did not report his activities to police, even though he was required to do so as part of the agreement that he had with the authorities.
In spite of this the Court of Appeals ruled that the man had not had criminal intent when he possessed the heroin.
The prosecutor in the case, Sirpa Laakso would not say what was said in the proceedings, but she did say that the decisions were “like being slapped in the face with a wet rag”.
“After the lower court verdict I wondered if I can’t speak Finnish, or if I just don’t know how to express my case. The basis of the Court of Appeals decision was something that I cannot find in the law.”
The rejection of the appeal application by the Supreme Court was equally shocking in Laakso’s view. “I applied for a right to appeal because I understood that the decision by the Court of Appeals could become some kind of legal practice, which seemed very dangerous and messy”, says Laakso, who now has a police job.
“If we assume that the application for appeal [to the Supreme Court] gives an accurate impression, then the decision by the Court of Appeals was unbelievable”, says Pekka Vilanen, Professor of Criminal and Procedural Law at the University of Turku.
Viljanen feels that the case would have been good material for a legal precedent – the Supreme Court would have had the opportunity to evaluate whether or not cooperation with the police is a proper basis for overlooking illegal activities.