Bunch of dirty hippies charged over Smash ASEM

86 smelly troublemakers, including Left Alliance vice chairman Paavo Arhinmäki MP and a press photographer from the Suomen Kuvalehti magazine, have been charged for offenses allegedly committed during last autumn's Smash ASEM demonstration. "Charges range from violent rioting, violent resistance against an official, illegal use of a mask, as well as weapons offences."

The prosecutor is worried (fi) about where he's going to find a big enough courtroom to fit all the unkempt defendants: "Certainly, the Helsinki Court House has spaces large enough to accommodate all of the [filthy dropouts]. However, these spaces are not actual courtrooms." We can only hope that the justice system is able to sort it out.

24 of the unhygienic punks may face a suspended prison sentence, but the rest of the scruffy anarchists risk only a fine. Arhinmäki and the photographer are among the latter. Arhinmäki wrote about the charges on his blog (fi); the phrases "show trial" and "political display" were mentioned. He also linked to a video of his arrest. He wanders into the frame about one minute from the end, wearing a grungy Adidas jacket and wielding a camera phone.

Seriously, though, I hope that the Suomen Kuvalehti photographer is acquitted. If you announce publicly that you and your friends will gather in the city centre to do some damage, as the would-be ASEM smashers did, you're liable to receive some close police attention. Nevertheless, the photographer had a good reason to remain at the scene even after the police told onlookers to leave. Members of the media should be able to document demonstrations like this without being fined.

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