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DNA samples could send Finish ARAs to prison

Helsinki, Finland

March 7, 2010

DNA samples could send animal activists to prison

Police have strong evidence of two people’s participation in arson attempt; violations of regulations found on five fur farms after shock animal rights video

Two young animal activists are facing jail sentences over suspected participation in an arson attempt on a fur retailer's shop that put human lives in danger in Turku in July 2008.

A new development in the case occurred only recently when the DNA investigation of samples collected at the crime scene helped the laboratory of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to link a young man and a woman with the fire.

The duo was suspected already at the beginning, but charges were filed only against the 25-year-old man.

Moreover, the charges against him were already dismissed once at the district court, but the new aggravating DNA results were available at the Court of Appeals this week.

The prosecutor demands that the man be handed a prison sentence for the aggravated criminal act and that he should be remanded in custody immediately.

Following the DNA examinations, a new suspect in the case is a 24-year-old woman who has recently drawn public attention as an active opponent of furs while defending legal forms of anti-fur action.

Whether or not she will face charges will be decided upon as soon as the Court of Appeals has handed out its decision in the case of the man who is already being charged.

What made the arson attempt in downtown Turku a serious crime was the fact that the fur shop was set on fire in the ground floor of an apartment building where dozens of people were sleeping.

The floors of the old building are made of wood with sawdust insulating material. Some of the residents are children and disabled old people.

According to fire officials who were heard in court, serious injuries could have been caused. The fire brigade arrived at the scene in six minutes, when the fire had only just broken out and no carbon monoxide had spread yet.

DNA tracing back to the woman and the man was found in clothes that had been dumped in a nearby garbage bin. The clothes were found right after the criminal act.

The DNA of the woman could also be detected in a pair of pimpled gloves, the index fingers of which contained similar red paint to the paint which had been used to write EVR (Animal Liberation Front) on the front door of the fur dealer's.

A bottle of strong detergent was found in the same waste bin. It had been used to set fire to a pile of fur in the shop. Some fragments of glass similar to the shop windows were also detected in the clothes.

In addition, the man has twice told his physician and other staff treating him that he set a fire in a fur shop in the city centre.

At the same time, municipal veterinarians have examined the 30 fur farms that were put on a check list after the Oikeutta Eläimille (”Justice for Animals”) organisation made public some secretly filmed material regarding the farms in February.

Violations of regulations were found on five fur farms.

On some of the farms, deficiencies were detected with regard to bookkeeping of the tending of the animals.

The footage by the activists was filmed in the autumn, after which the foxes and minks have been skinned and the sick animals have been put down.

The five fur farmers have been ordered to rectify all observed faults, and in due course the farms will be inspected by the authorities once again.

Reportedly, the farms where deficiencies were discovered will be reported to the police.

Head of Unit Jaana Mikkola of the Finnish Food Safety Authority EVIRA said that the results of the inspections were similar to those reported in previous years.

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