Embattled Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto facing Parliament, criminal investigations

The veteran Green politician could be embroiled in two ongoing investigations lasting until the autumn.

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Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) in his office at the Government Palace, Helsinki, 27th August 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Finland’s embattled Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Greens) whose leadership at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been beset with allegations of bullying and poor staff management, is now facing Parliamentary and criminal investigations.

Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee decided on Wednesday to start a preliminary investigation into the veteran politician’s handling of the case of Isis-linked Finns at the al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria.

In particular they’ll focus on claims made by a senior ministry official Pasi Tuominen who alleges that Haavisto sidelined him after he refused to bow to pressure and make a decision on repatriating women and children from the camp – as he thought it should be more appropriately be decided by politicians, rather than civil servants.

“It has emerged in the committee that Haavisto has issued an order to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs senior management that Tuominen should be removed from his post. The question is why he had to be taken out of office” after the al-Hol case file had been taken from him, Johanna Ojala-Niemelä (SDP), Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, told journalists.

During this preliminary investigation the Prosecutor General can investigate other aspects of the case in cooperation with the police.

A decision on whether the case should go to trial in a court of law will only be taken after the preliminary investigation is complete. Ojala-Niemelä indicates that the process could continue into the autumn.

Support for Haavisto from Green leader

The leader of the Greens, Maria Ohisalo, told journalists in Parliament on Wednesday that Haavisto should continue in his post as foreign minister, and that she trusted him.

Haavisto’s office said in a short statement to the Finnish News Agency STT that they had no comment on the matter while it was under investigation.

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