Prosecutor places appeal with Helsinki Appellate Court


State Prosecutor Anu Mantila and Regional Prosecutor Maija Päivinen today, 29 April 2022, submitted to the Helsinki Appellate Court an application for further proceedings and an appeal against the acquittal of the Helsinki District Court in the so-called “Bible trial”. The prosecutors demand the annulment of the District Court decision and the conviction of Päivi Räsänen and Juhana Pohjola for incitement against an ethnic group and the imposition of a corporate fine on the Luther Foundation Finland. [Finnish law allows for prosecutors to appeal verdicts of the acquitted.]

The prosecution argues that Päivi Räsänen’s writing Male and female He created them, her tweet about the Pride parade and her discussion on Ruben Stiller’s radio programme constitute incitement against a group of people. Thus far, the police concluded in a preliminary investigation that the booklet does not violate the law, and most recently the District Court came to the same conclusion.

Charges have attracted widespread attention

The charges have attracted national and international attention as they have been assessed to endanger freedom of speech and religion. The legality of the charges has also been questioned. After the District Court’s decision, Yleisradio [Finnish Broadcasting Corporation] published a news item: “Prosecutor placed words into Päivi Räsänen’s mouth she had not said – YLE goes through the false allegations.” In a later YLE news item, State Prosecutor Anu Mantila expressed her dissatisfaction with the verdict, stating it was the prosecutor’s duty to explain the meaning of Päivi Räsänen’s statements, i.e. how the statements should be interpreted objectively: “Prosecutor denies misrepresenting Päivi Räsänen’s statements – slams acquittal and explains differences in interpretation with a horse analogy.”

Bishop Juhana Pohjola comments on the prosecutor’s appeal

– “The prosecutor’s appeal to the Appellate Court was not surprising, even though it is regrettable. The goal is to obtain the Appellate Court interpretation of the law in relation to the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, freedom of religion and equality. I am confident that the charges that were unanimously and justifiably overturned by the District Court will also be overturned in further courts.”

– “It is worrisome the prosecution is thus continuing its ideological campaign to deprive Christians of the right to publicly teach the Christian concept of man and of marriage based on natural law and the Bible. Although our booklet [above] emphasizes the indivisible human dignity of every human being based on creation and redemption, the prosecutor claims that our booklet is discriminatory and homophobic because it rejects homosexual acts. According to the prosecutor, it is an affront to human dignity to criticize a person’s homosexual lifestyle as wrong and as a moral choice taken against God’s will. This is an attempt to criminalize Christian sexual teaching and, ultimately, the proclamation of sin – and the gospel of the grace of Christ.”

– “This long and arduous process will continue, but I am sure that the work for freedom of speech and religion will be meaningful and beneficial to all in our society. I also know that we go forward in God’s good hands and according to His plan.”

Bishop Juhana Pohjola’s lawyer Jyrki Anttinen remarked on the prosecutor’s appeal

– “In their appeal, the prosecutors do not really present anything new, but justify their charges with the same evidence and arguments as they had in the District Court. If the Appellate Court grants the right to continue the case, the defendants will be asked to answer the charges, after which we will see, in due course, what kind of evidence the Appellate Court will use to decide the case.”

Sami Niemi

Secretary of the Diocese

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