Two right-wing suspects held in political attempted murder case

One of the men has recent links to the Finns Party, while the other reportedly has ties to the Nordic Resistance Movement, Alliance of Nationslists and the Soldiers of Odin vigilante group.

File picture of Pekka Kataja (in the centre, wearing blue t-shirt), August 2019 / Credit: FB

Two suspects, both with links to the far-right, and one with ties to the Finns Party, have been detained by police investigating the attempted murder of a Finns Party activist in July.

The National Bureau of Investigation NBI says the two men, born in 1981 and 1976, were remanded in custody as part of the pre-trial investigation into the violent attack on Pekka Kataja at his home in Jämsä.

Kataja is a Finns Party local councilor and an aide to a Finns Party Member of Parliament, and was left with head injuries and broken ribs after the beating which happened when at least two men showed up at his door claiming to have a delivery for him.

File pictures of former Finns Party local politician Teemu Torssonen

Finnish media have named one of the detained suspects as Teemu Torssonen, a Jyväskylä City Councilor and Board Member who had challenged former Finns Party chairman Timo Soini for the leadership of the party back in 2016.

Torssonen was kicked out of the Finns Party in May 2019 and had reportedly been denied the chance to be a parliamentary election candidate. He has previous convictions for firearms offenses.

The other suspect has been named by Finnish media as as Tero Ala-Tuuhonen, reportedly one of the leaders of the far-right Soldiers of Odin vigilante group, and also connected to the banned neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement.

Ala-Tuuhonen is also involved with the far-right Alliance of Nationalists organisation, which has garnered some support from Finns Party MPs; while pictures of an anti-EU rally outside parliament on 1st September, which attracted far-right QAnon conspiracy theorists, show Ala-Tuuhonen posing with at least one Finns Party MP for photographs.

The leader of the Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho, who frequently writes on social media about crime issues when foreigners are implicated, has so far not made any comments about the latest developments in this case.

File picture of suspect Tero Ala-Tuuhonen (R) with Finns Party MP Petri Huru (L) at anti-EU / QAnon rally outside parliament, 1st September 2020 / Credit: Twitter

“The pre-trial investigation is still ongoing and will continue after the arrests, including hearings and technical investigations” says Jussi Luoto from the National Bureau of Investigations.

“The police are establishing the motive for the suspected crime, but it cannot be commented on while the hearings are in progress” he adds.

After the attack, Pekka Kataja initially told the Finns Party newspaper his assailants were “Arab-looking”, while another Finns Party MP Ville Tavio wrote on Twitter that the attackers had “a foreign background” however the police never confirmed that, and Kataja subsequently updated his statements to say he thought the men might have been from the far-right.

Kataja gave a radio interview shortly after the attack where he said it wasn’t his intention to put the blame on any group, and confirmed that his attackers were not foreign. He also said he’s worked to clear the far-right elements out of his local Finns Party group, and speculated the beating might have been because of that.