Posted by : Suomen antifasistinen komitea ry Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee demands that Finland annul the sentences meted out for “responsibility for war.” Under heavy pressure from the Soviet Union, Finland was forced in 1945 to pass a retroactive law “on the punishment of those guilty of war” and to establish a special court for this purpose. Those accused were picked under Soviet instructions and included eight of Finland’s war-time leaders, including President Risto Ryti. Under continued heavy pressure from Moscow, those accused were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.
The war trial violated the principle of fair trial and the basic rules of a democratic and civilised state governed under the rule of law, as embodied in Finland’s Constitution. The trial was conducted by a special court established for the purpose; the trial violated a ban on retroactive criminal law; the trial did not and could not observe the presumption of innocence; the ability of the accused to defend themselves was limited; some of the judges should have been disqualified; and there was heavy outside pressure on the judges in detriment of the accused.
In his final statement, Risto Ryti said: “This trial is a farce. The real prosecutor is not the state of Finland, but the government of one great power. The real defendants are not the persons who were picked on political grounds and now stand accused here. The real defendant is the Finnish people. The purpose of this trial is not to mete out maximum sentences on those accused, but for a Finnish court to declare that Finland was the aggressor in the war and that the Soviet Union was a peace-loving, wronged victim of an unjustified aggression.”
Most Finns never regarded those sentenced in the war trial as guilty of any crime, but as patriotic, respectable citizens who in extremely difficult circumstances did their utmost to defend our nation that was at peril. Those sentenced never lost their honour, and thus they need no rehabilitation. The best option to correct the situation would be to annul the false sentences. The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee is of the view that this would demonstrate that Finland fulfilled its obligations as a state governed by the rule of law.