Two-year term wanted for ‘bribery’ MP

The prosecutor in the case against Finland’s former minister for foreign affairs, Iikka Kanerva, is calling for the MP to serve a jail term of at least two years for alleged aggravated bribe-taking and intentional or negligent dereliction of duty.

In a preliminary session at Helsinki District Court last week, shorter sentences were also suggested for the four businessmen who are suspected of issuing Kanerva with backhanders worth more than EUR 50,000 in exchange for his influence regarding the erection of large shopping centres in Varsinais-Suomi, southwest Finland.

Directors Tapani Yli-Saunamaki and Arto Merisalo, as well as entrepreneur Toivo Sukari and CEO Kyosti Kakkonen – all from the former Nova Real Estate Development Group – have been charged with aggravated bribery for their part in the alleged scandal. It is believed that Kenerva, in his role as chairman of the board for southwest Finland’s Regional Council, influenced decisions about zoning and the placement of the shopping centres.

Kanerva, a member of the National Coalition Party, has been the MP for the constituency known as ‘Finland-proper’ since 1975. He was re-elected in April 2010, albeit with a lesser number of votes.

Jorma Kalske, the deputy prosecutor general, made the decision to file charges against the accused in January, with the main hearing set to start on 14th November. All five of the defendants deny the charges, claiming they acted in legitimate support of political activity, reports Helsingin Sanomat.