Entire Jyväskylä City Board resigns over criminal suspicion of one councilor

There's local political ramifications in Jyväskylä after a city councilor was one of two suspects detained in the beating attack of another city council member.

File picture showing Jyväskylä City Hall exterior, May 2020 / Credit: Jyväskylä City Council

The entire Jyväskylä City Board has resigned after one of its members was detained by police on suspicion of attempted murder of a City Council member.

The move is procedural, as a way to force Teemu Torssonen (Ind) off the board, and the City Council will appoint a new board with Torssonen likely replaced by a Finns Party member instead. Torssonen had been a Finns Party councilor and board member until spring 2019 when he was kicked out of the party over a dispute about his candidacy for the parliamentary elections.

The National Bureau of Investigation recently detained Teemu Torssonen, and another man Tero Ala-Tuuhonen, over their suspected involvement in a July attack on a Finns Party local councilor Pekka Kataja.

Kataja was left with head injuries and broken ribs after at least two men tricked him into opening his front door at home in Jämsä, then beat him.

File pictures of former Finns Party local politician Teemu Torssonen

Torssonen has previous convictions for firearms offenses, while Ala-Tuuhonen is reportedly one of the leaders of the far-right Soldiers of Odin vigilante group, and connected to the banned neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement. He is also involved with the far-right Alliance of Nationalists organisation, which has garnered some support from Finns Party MPs, and he’s promoted QAnon conspiracy theories outside parliament.

In a Monday afternoon statement the Jyväskylä City Board says that under the terms of the Municipalities Act the City Council can dismiss the board if they lose faith in any of its members. They can’t compel just one member to resign, legally the whole board has to resign. In this case Torssonen was given the chance to quit voluntarily but he refused.

The Jyväskylä City Council will now re-appoint the City Board, minus Mr Torssonen who remains in police custody while the preliminary investigation into the attack on Pekka Kataja continues.

“Teemu Torssonen’s position as Jyväskylä City Councilor is affected by how the criminal investigation progresses and whether charges are brought against him” the City Council says in its statement.

If Torssonen is charged, found guilty and sent to prison for more than six months then the council would have legal grounds to dismiss him.

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