Helsinki police chief Aapio suspended

17 May 2018, 03:10

  DF Report

The head of the Helsinki police Lasse Aapio. File Photo Helsinki Police.

The chief of Helsinki police, Lasse Aapio has been suspended and is facing trial on charges of irregularities in the operations of drug police squad.

The interior ministry issued the suspension order on Wednesday with immediate effect, reported the national broadcaster Yle.

The ministry said Aapio cannot continue in his office while is facing charges and his suspension is essential in order to protect the reputation and reliability of the police and the exercise of official duties, said the Yle report.

“The suspension is not a statement of position on Aapio’s guilt or innocence. As we see it, Aapio does not have the prerequisites to lead the Helsinki Police during this judicial process,” Yle quoted Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen as saying.

Aapio, however, denied any breach of official rules.

During the suspension, deputy police chief Heikki Kopperoinen will take over the charge of the Helsinki police.

During the suspension period, Aapio will get 50 per cent of his regular salary but if the charges are dropped, the rest of the money will be reimbursed retroactively.

Earlier on May 3, three high-level police officers were charged with negligence of duty. According to the charges, they did not supervise the way the Helsinki drug police used sources in 2009-2013.

The suspects are former national police commissioner Mikko Paatero, current Helsinki police commissioner Lasse Aapio and his predecessor Jukka Riikonen. 

A management investigation was ordered by the then interior minister Päivi Räsänen in 2013. At that time, another investigation into the drug police affairs was under way and Räsänen found out that the media information and what she got internally from the police did not match.

Last year, Räsänen said she got the impression in 2013 that the Helsinki drug police had been allowed to make its own rules and it was a “wild west” of the police force.

The investigation into the drug police operations resulted in 2016 to a 10-year imprisonment of the former head of anti-drug squad at the Helsinki Police Department, Jari Aarnio for drug smuggling, official misconduct and other crimes. Following the court decision about Aarnio, the investigation into the management problems continued.