A Finnish Armed Forces senior lieutenant has been sentenced to pay fines for having badmouthed President Tarja Halonen while directing a training for soldiers. The soldiers had contacted the media about the behaviour of the officer.
The officer had referred to the 1970s role of the then young lawyer Tarja Halonen as the Chairman of the Finnish Sexual Equality Association, Seta. The officer had labeled Halonen as a "communist". He had claimed she lacked sufficient qualifications to be the President and Commander in chief. The officer had also said that homosexuality was a medical condition.
The verdict was given for an unintentional crime, acting in contravention of the duties. The court noted that as an officer the Seniour Lieutenant should have known better though. His actions had been spontaneous and thus could not be considered to be intentional.
The convicted Lieutenant chose not to appeal.
Finland maintains a general conscription system. The convicted officer was a 43 year old non-commissioned officer. The soldiers who took affront with the behavior of the NCO were conscripts. The officer corps is in Finland is divided into a actual commissioned officers, starting with the rank of lieutenant, and the NCOs ranging from sergeants to captains. The rank Senior Lieutenant is unknown in most western countries, Finland took it from the German rank Oberleutnant.
As in most western countries, Finland does not bar gays from serving in the military. The current length of the military training for conscripts ranges between six and twelve months.