Four-month sentence for man who threatened Maria Ohisalo

The 30-year old man won't face any jail time for his actions, which included posting a picture on Instragram with crosshairs over the minister's head.

File picture, exterior of Helsinki District Court / Credit: News Now Finland

A man who threatened Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) on social media has been convicted, and sentenced to a four-month suspended sentence. It means he won’t actually serve any jail time.

A judge at Helsinki District Court handed down the verdict on Tuesday afternoon, after the November trial heard how the 30-year old man published an image on Instagram with a crosshairs over Ohisalo’s head saying he was going to hunt her. He had also threatened to bomb the Ministry of Interior building in Helsinki; and said he would carry out an attack on Pasila police station, as part of his long-standing resentment against the police.

The man had admitted he did the things he was accused of, but denied he acted illegally. He had apologised to Ohisalo and said he hadn’t planned to use violence but only wanted to draw attention to his issues.

In the judgment, the court said it considered the threats to be serious, and although someone in Minister Ohisalo’s position should be prepared to face harsh criticism hate speech and threats do not fall within the scope of freedom of speech.

“Due to the threat, Ohisalo has rightly been able to fear that his own safety is in serious danger” the judgment says.

Although Minister Ohisalo hasn’t commented on the court’s ruling, during the trial she gave evidence that the threats made her reconsider whether she could manager her work and leisure time in the same way as before, or whether she could meet people at public events or go for a jog.