The Satakunta District Court has decided to release four suspects from members of a far-right terrorist cell in the town of Kankaanpää in southwestern Finland.
A fifth suspect was released earlier last month.
Five men aged 23-26 were arrested in December on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, the first time in Finland that charges have been brought against a far-right group.
They were first arrested in January 2020 on suspicion of, among other things, a firearms offense and an explosives offense, but were released from pre-trial detention in the spring of 2020.
Yle’s investigation revealed an extensive list of confirmed and suspected crimes committed by members of the group, and those interviewed said the gang was known to have harassed, intimidated and even violently attacked the city over the past few years.
However, the Satakunta District Court invoked Chapter 2, Section 8 of the Coercive Measures Act as a reason for the release of the suspects.
The paragraph states:
"A person arrested or detained for a criminal offense and released shall not be re-arrested for the same offense on the basis of a fact of which the authority was aware when deciding on the arrest or detention on remand."
The district court ruled on Wednesday that investigators have not provided new evidence in support of the suspects’ request for continued detention.
However, the men are still suspected of crimes and therefore the documents in the case remain secret.
The release of the suspects “surprised” the investigators
Police had demanded that the suspects be continued in pre-trial detention, arguing in court that there were sufficient grounds for the men’s detention, as they might seek to obstruct the trial after their release.
However, the court rejected the police’s argument.
"I’m surprised this was a decision" Detective inspector Toni Sjöblom, leading the investigation, told Yle.
"The preliminary investigation continues under the same headings [charges]. The decision of the court shall not affect" he said.
However, Sjöblom added that the pre-trial investigation could be slowed down by a court decision because the suspects have not yet been fully questioned by the investigators.
The release of suspects may make it more difficult to conduct follow-up interviews.
According to Sjöblom, the police still aim to complete the preliminary investigation by the end of March. However, the actual deadline no longer exists as the suspects have been released from pre-trial detention.
Source: The Nordic Page