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Four-month suspended sentence for MP Tony Halme

 Parliament to resolve Halme's position only after Appeal Court hearing

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True Finns MP Tony Halme received a suspended prison sentence of four months and was ordered to pay fines totalling 80 income-linked "day-fines" - in this case amounting to EUR 4,480 - as the Helsinki District Court handed down its ruling on Thursday.
   
The court found Halme guilty of all the offences on the charge-sheet with the exception of driving under the influence. The court felt that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that Halme had driven his car briefly in a restaurant car park while intoxicated.
   
The other charges of a firearms violation, behaviour likely to cause danger, smuggling, possession of imported goods knowing them to be illegal, and drug use were all upheld, although the court moderated the prosecutor's demands in some cases.

The court reduced its sentence from the maximum, citing as mitigating circumstances the fact that Halme was a first offender and that the events of last July, on which this case was based, had also resulted in the defendant's lengthy hospitalisation. Halme spent several weeks in a serious condition after being found unconscious in his Helsinki home. Police had been called in the early hours of the morning following an incident in which a military pistol was fired in the apartment. Halme and his wife were present at the time.
   
The four-month prison term is suspended and the probationary period lasts until the end of June next year. The State Prosecutor had demanded a five-month sentence.
   
Halme immediately expressed his dissatisfaction with the verdict and announced he would appeal. He believes he was guilty only of the firearms violation, to which he also pleaded guilty in court.

Parliament will be able to consider Halme's position only after a judgement is received from the Court of Appeal, which could take up to a year.
   
The process of expelling a Member of Parliament requires a two-thirds majority of the 200 MPs. The most recent case in which a sitting member was expelled from the House was in 1993, when Kauko Juhantalo (Centre Party), a former minister, was voted out by his peers after receiving a suspended sentence on charges of official misconduct and taking a bribe.
   
Halme has announced he will not be resigning his seat. The 41-year-old former professional wrestler and boxer was elected to Parliament in March of last year in the Helsinki constituency. He received a huge number of votes, many from disaffected people in the eastern suburbs, and became the third MP of the populist right-wing True Finns party. The story of his hospitalisation dominated the tabloid headlines last summer.

Previously in HS International Edition:
 Prosecutor demands suspended sentence for Finnish MP Tony Halme (16.1.2004)
 New offences added to list of charges facing MP Tony Halme (24.10.2003)
 Tabloid suspends journalist over Halme story; caller ID reveals sham phone call (15.8.2003)
 Tony Halme's success in Finnish parliamentary elections came as no surprise to some (25.3.2003)


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