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Jari Aarnio, an ex-head of drug enforcement at the Helsinki Police Department, was escorted to the Vantaa Prison immediately after being sentenced to ten years' imprisonment by the District Court of Helsinki on 29 December, 2016.
Jari Aarnio, an ex-head of drug enforcement at the Helsinki Police Department, was escorted to the Vantaa Prison immediately after being sentenced to ten years' imprisonment by the District Court of Helsinki on 29 December, 2016.

Jari Aarnio, a former head of drug enforcement at the Helsinki Police Department, has been sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for a slew of drug and misconduct offences.

The District Court of Helsinki on Thursday found the defendant guilty of a total of 22 offences, including six counts of aggravated drug offence, five counts of aggravated abuse of public office, one count of aggravated falsification of evidence and one count of witness intimidation.

Aarnio was also ordered to forfeit a total of 1,306,000 euros in criminal profits and his property in Porvoo, and stripped of his military rank.

He and twelve other defendants were charged with offences related primarily to the import and distribution of six barrels – or, almost 800 kilos – of hashish in 2011–2012. Aarnio was found guilty of five counts of aggravated drug offence after the court established that he was an integral part of the drug smuggling and distribution ring.

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“Aarnio has been shown to have obstructed the investigation into the import of hashish barrels in various ways and sought in other ways to prevent himself and other people involved in the [smuggling operation] from being caught in 2012–2013,” the District Court of Helsinki states in a press release.

He was convicted of several aggravated and lesser offences in office for having “unscrupulously abused his position” at the Helsinki Police Department.

Aarnio pleaded his innocence throughout the trial proceedings, arguing that his actions had been part of lawful police and informant activities.

Another member of the drug enforcement squad, Mikael Runeberg, was found guilty of four counts of aggravated abuse of public office and five counts of lesser offences in office and, consequently, sentenced to three years and six months' imprisonment. He was ruled to, for example, have been involved in an attempt to frame another man for the drug smuggling operation.

The District Court of Helsinki draws in its press release attention to the detrimental impact of the wrongdoings on public trust in the Police of Finland.

“The offences were committed with premeditation while unscrupulously abusing the position of a police officer. The offenders also took advantage of the judicial system and forcible police measures. Police activities must be credible and lawful especially with respect to secret forcible measures. The actions [of the offenders] contributed to reducing public trust in police operations and were therefore damaging for the entire society,” it estimates.

Aarnio has announced his intention to appeal the ruling. His defence counsel, Riitta Leppiniemi, estimated in an interview with MTV that the court failed to understand the manner in which an anti-drug force has to operate.

The Helsinki Court of Appeal in October handed down a three-year prison sentence to Aarnio for aggravated abuse of public office, aggravated fraud and aggravated acceptance of bribes in a case related to the acquisition of surveillance equipment for the Helsinki Police Department.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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