According to a preliminary ruling of the Supreme Court, the commissioner cannot be left unpunished, as the Court of Appeal had done.
Supreme the Court (KKO) has fined the commissioner, whose negligence led the innocent man to a cell for a couple of days. The man had been the victim of an identity theft and was suspected of crimes committed by the thief.
The Commissioner was sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment for negligent deprivation of liberty and negligent breach of duty. His income will be 1,260 euros.
In the past, too The Turku Court of Appeal held the commissioner guilty of the crime but failed to convict him.
Police arrested a Helsinki man who had been the victim of identity theft on suspicion of fraud and forgery in May 2015. A rental car had been rented in his name and had been resold.
During interrogations, the man denied knowing anything about renting and selling a motorhome.
The man also said he was the target of identity theft. He had received a letter from the police a couple of months earlier about identity theft.
The man mentioned the letter to the interrogator, but he was nevertheless arrested and transferred from Helsinki to Tampere. He was released after two days.
Later, his position in the case was changed from a suspect to a plaintiff.
Read more: Mikko, a victim of identity theft, was imprisoned for two days due to suspected fraud
At KKO the question was whether a penalty should be imposed on the commissioner who decided on the arrest.
In its preliminary ruling, the KKO pointed out that, according to previous case-law, there is a high threshold for not sentencing a sentence. This has generally required that the act or the perpetrator ‘s guilt be accompanied by specific mitigating circumstances which make the offense minor or equivalent to an excusable act.
In the present case, the Commissioner had unknowingly ordered the man’s arrest, even though the conditions for his arrest had not been met. This resulted in the man unjustifiably losing his freedom for two days.
KKO recalled the constitutional right to personal liberty. Restrictions on freedom must therefore be treated with particular care. Even a relatively short deprivation of liberty fulfills the characteristics of a negligent deprivation of liberty.
In this case, the detention order was not in a hurry, so the grounds for challenging the man would have been verified. There was nothing surprising or unexpected about the situation anyway.
The Commissioner had argued that he had taken the decision in his spare time after a telephone conversation. The procedure was normal, he said.
The KKO pointed out that the commissioner was not obliged to act in his spare time, but could have directed decision-making to the commissioner on duty.
Since he decided to make his own decision, he is also responsible for ensuring that the conditions for detention were met.
“This omission is not made acceptable or excusable by the fact that the method of communication used is in itself established.”
KKO’s according to the commissioner, the act was customary in its type of crime.
“As an aggravating circumstance, it must be taken into account that [komisario] has, through negligence, breached a fundamental duty in the performance of his duties, which has led to unjustified deprivation of liberty. On the other hand, his conduct has not shown any indifference to the administration. ‘