Rusi trial as spectacle

Alpo Rusi versus the Finnish state got underway yesterday. Here are the basics:

The Helsinki district court is to hear the damages case by Alpo Rusi, a diplomat investigated under spying allegations in 2002, beginning Monday.

Mr Rusi is claiming 500,000 euros in damages for mental suffering and financial losses caused by a Security Police investigation.

The Security Police had suspected Mr Rusi of spying for the bygone East Germany. No charges were brought against him.

Today the state has been laying out its defense:
Helsinki district court heard Tuesday that Finland's Security Police (Supo) had launched its preliminary investigation on Alpo Rusi on the basis of an account by an East German state security ministry (Stasi) officer and a large number of documents, including Finnish foreign ministry wins, sent to East Germany.

The officer had told German officials that Stasi codename Pekka had a link to Mr Rusi. Supo had known before this that Pekka had handed dozens of documents to the German Democratic Republic.

The state told the court that these two pieces of information had clearly warranted a preliminary investigation.

On yesterday's evening news one of Rusi's lawyers quite bizarrely called it the 2000s version of the war guilt trial. I think he may have been joking - at least the comparison cracked up a fellow Rusi lawyer standing next to him. That, if you think about it, is the correct response either way.

Alas, there's some rule about cameras not being allowed inside the courtroom, which has made the television coverage of the event pure gold for anyone who enjoys the sight of a bunch lawyers standing around in a circle. Plain old recorders are okay, though, so recordings of the participants' words were accompanied by unrelated footage of them mouthing different words outside the courtroom. The effect is pleasingly strange.

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