HELSINKI (EJP)--- A Finnish court has found a newspaper editor guilty of inciting racial hatred after he published a reader’s letter which approved of the Holocaust.
Antti Toiviainen, chief editor of Finnish regional daily Uusimaa, was fined 1,050 euros by a Porvoo district court in southern Finland on Tuesday.
The letter writer, whose identity was not disclosed, was also found guilty of inciting racial hatred and was fined 570 euros.
The letter was also published in the leftist newspaper Kansan Uutiset paper. Chief editor Janne Maekinen had refused to run the letter but it was later published due to a technical fault or a human error.
The chief editor was ordered to pay a fine of 400 euros for failing to meet his obligations as editor.
In the letter, which was published in July, the writer wrote that the persecution of Jews by the Nazis was “a desirable measure”
According to the large circulation Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, prosecutions for inciting hatred against an ethnic group are unusual in Finland.
State Prosecutor Mika Illman argued that there are limits to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
"The purpose of the constitution is to protect human dignity. The letter defamed the Jews, as it presents the ethnic group in question as a target against which extremely violent measures are permissible and desirable,” he said.
The writer rejected the charges as “ridiculous”.
The court nevertheless found that the piece could not be justified even as a bad joke.
Representatives of both newspapers admitted that the article was of bad taste.