Finns Party chairman Timo Soini says he has changed his mind about a racism conviction preventing anyone from serving in the right-wing party, after the Supreme Court upheld that MP Jussi Halla-aho is guilty of hate speech. After the latest ruling in the four-year case, Soini says Halla-aho’s role as the chair of Parliament’s Administration Committee, which is responsible for immigration, will have to be decided by other members of the house.
“Halla-aho and the Finns Party will have to live with this ruling, although Halla-aho was not an MP at the time that he wrote the statements,” Soini said in a report by YLE. “I think the ruling was just and I won’t take the matter any further,” he added. Soinji also said that he does not think the conviction should prevent Halla-aho, one of the party’s biggest vote winners, from running in autumn’s municipal elections.
Last week, the Supreme Court increased Halla-aho’s fine from 30 days to 50 and found him guilty of hate speech for comments he made on his blog in 2008. Halla-aho, who has now been ordered to delete the offending statements, said Somalis are predisposed towards stealing and that Islam encourages paedophilia.
Two lower courts had previously only found him guilty of defaming religion, but the Supreme Court found the comments constituted inciting hatred against an ethnic group. Halla-aho argues that his blog should be protected under freedom of speech laws, and said on his Facebook profile this week that he will take his fight to the European Court of Human Rights.