In Helsinki, Finland, Green Party’s mayoral candidate Anni Sinnemäki is facing a criminal investigation for her dereliction of duty in 2016 when she was the Deputy Mayor of Helsinki. She is suspected of a crime regarding zoning permits in the Meilahti district. The allegations arose when her friend received a building permit in an area of historic buildings.

Identifying conflicts of interest is extremely important in politics. I would never favour my acquaintances in decision-making. I have not committed a crime.

– Anni Sinnemäki

Despite, preliminary investigations having started the year prior. The case resurfaced days before the Finnish Municipal Elections were held on June 13th.

Sinnemäki denied all allegations and other members of the Green Party have confirmed the party was aware of the investigation before presenting Sinnemaki as their candidate.

According to the UK Time News, Former Green MP and Helsinki Councilor Osmo Soininvaara has commented that the motivation behind this investigation is to sway the elections against Sinnemäki. He said: “It seems quite surprising that something five years old is surfacing in the public debate two days before the elections,”

About the investigation

The case revolves around a building permit that one of Sinnemäki’s acquaintances Pihla Viitala and her sister received in 2016 when Sinnemäki served as the Deputy Mayor of Helsinki and was responsible for the planning of the City of Helsinki.

This permit allowed the construction of a 200 Square meter semi-detached house in place of a historic twenty-six Square meter hangar in the district of Meilahti. This angered residents of Meilahti whose permission requests were refused, according to the Teller Report.

The friendship between Pihla Viitala and Sinnemäki has created further suspicion about Sinnemäki influencing the authorization decision regarding zoning permits and a breach of duty.

Sinnemäki’s response

On June 11th, Sinnemäki commented on the investigation on Facebook, explaining the process of exemption decisions and her innocence.

She stated “I have not been involved in the preparation of the exemption decisions for the area and they have not changed in the political process. I have therefore not influenced the outcome of the case. In January 2020, the Helsinki Administrative Court rejected the appeals against the zoning plan. The court found that I was not prevented from doing so. According to the court, the acquaintance between me and Pihla Viitala does not constitute a close relationship that would give rise to an impediment. The decision has been appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court and a request for an investigation has been made into the variance permit, which has been the subject of a preliminary investigation by the police.The case has been pending for a long time. I was consulted last autumn, after which the case seems to have made little progress.”


Comments of other Green Party members

The Finnish Greens have highlighted that the matter has already been discussed in public so extensively that it has not necessary to inform the public about the suspicion of the crime.

Despite being silent about the reaction to the investigation in the Green Party, members of the party have continued to expressed support of the mayoral candidate.

The Green Party secretary Veli Liikanen talked about the party’s overall tone regarding Sinnemäki’s situation in an interview with the Teller Report. He said, “In general, there has been a lot of discussion about judgments here during the election, and our party’s starting point is what is stated in the candidate agreement that when nominating a candidate for an association, one must be informed if any such process is going on.”

Moreover, the Green Party Councillor Sanna Vesikansa showed her support to Sinnemäki’s candidacy on Twitter, calling “The competence, leadership, and cooperation skills are ironclad and genuine in Ann – that’s why Ann makes a great Mayor of Helsinki!”

Click here if you want to learn more about the mayoral candidate Anni Sinnemäki and her programme.

Zeynep Karageldi

Zeynep is from Izmir, Turkey. She is a second-year undergraduate student at McGill University in Montreal pursuing a BA in Political Science. Passionate about environmental science and environmental law, Zeynep likes to address issues from both scientific and political perspectives as a writer. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies and traveling.

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