Finns Party politician and newspaper editors face trial in ‘fake rape case’

The trio will go on trial later this month over an article that the MP wrote, and the editors published in their newspapers.

File photo of judge holding documents / Credit: iStock

Finns Party Member of Parliament Juha Mäenpää, and the former editors of two regional newspapers, are facing a court case later in March.

The trial concerns an article which Mäenpää wrote criticizing the principal of South Ostrobothnia College for failing to report a rape to police. Mäenpää suggested that a student at the college, with an immigrant background, had raped an underage child.

However, the college had contacted the police who confirmed no crime took place, and now Mäenpää is accused of defamation. He tells STT Finnish News Agency that he does not believe he defamed anybody, and that the actions of public officials should be open to criticism.

The former editors of Ilkkka and Pohlajainen newspapers who published Mäenpää’s article now face a prosecution for editorial misconduct. Satu Takala and Toni Viljanmaa deny to Ilkka-Pohjalainen newspaper, the successor to the two individual regional titles, that they committed any crimes.

An editor can be prosecuted if they deliberately or through negligence, publish an article which affects the commission of a crime.

All three defendants could potentially be fined if found guilty of the charges.

Mäenpää’s trail of controversy 

This is not the first time that Finns Party MP Mäenpää has faced controversy, or possible charges in court.

In January, the Prosecutor General said he wanted to charge Mäenpää with inciting hatred towards an ethnic group, after he used a debate in the chamber to say that asylum seekers were like an “invasive species.”

Parliament’s Constitutional Committee is currently considering whether to consider the Prosecutor General’s request.

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