HS: Pekka Haavisto facing two police charges over al-Hol handling

The foreign minister faces fines or up to two years in jail if he's found guilty of the crimes which Helsingin Sanomat says he will be charged with.

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Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) talks to reporters outside Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, 29th August 2019 / Credit: TPK

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) is facing two police charges over his handling of the al-Hol refugee situation, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The newspaper reports that Haavisto will be charged with breach of duty to cooperate, and official misconduct by the National Bureau of Investigations NBI.

The alleged crimes date back to Haavisto’s actions last autumn, and the decision-making process about what to do with Isis-linked Finnish women and their children at al-Hol refugee camp in northeast Syria, and whether they should be evacuated back to Finland.

In February, Parliament’s Constitutional Committee asked prosecutors to investigate whether Haavisto may have committed any crimes when he re-assigned the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Chief Pasi Tuominen – the two had apparently disagreed about whether decisions on al-Hol refugees should be taken by civil servants, or politicians.

Earlier this week the NBI announced that their investigation had wrapped up, although they wouldn’t comment on the time about the nature of any possible charges while their report was sent to the prosecutor’s office. The report has since been sent to the Constitutional Committee.

Haavisto has denied committing any crimes, but if found guilty he could face fines or up to two years in prison for the charges.