Finland Charges Two Iraqi Refugees With War Crimes

REUTERS/Anni Reenapaa/Lehtikuva

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Finland charged two Iraqi refugees with war crimes Tuesday for allegedly taking part in desecration of bodies in their home country.

The crimes took place in 2014 and the spring of 2015 before they traveled to Finland. The charges are based on images and information on the Internet.

Both men deny any association with Islamic State and said they fought against it while living in Iraq. Prosecutor Juha-Mikko Hamalainen denied to comment on their immigration status and what forces they were associated with at the time of the crimes. Hamalainen confirmed the incidents were unrelated.

If the men are found guilty, they are looking at between one year and life in prison depending on the severity of their crimes, according to public broadcaster YLE.

More than 32,000 refugees came to Finland last year, a majority of whom are from Iraq. The charges against the men follow another incident in December, where two other Iraqis were arrested for shooting 11 unarmed prisoners during an ISIS massacre in 2014. The men were caught and identified from an ISIS execution video. (RELATED: Finland Charges Two Refugees With Terror Murder Of 11)

The Finns have been loud in their opposition of refugees. When the first stream of Iraqis arrived in September they were welcomed by a group of protester telling them to go home. Citizen militia “Soldier of Odin” — a group that walks the streets at night to protect Finns from Islamic immigrants — was founded in Finland last November. The militia has since opened up chapters in nine European countries, as well as the U.S. (RELATED: Finnish Anti-Immigration Militia ‘Soldiers Of Odin’ Growing Across Europe)

Refugees are also causing a strict divide among leading politicians. President Sauli Niinisto — who has no formal power as the head of state — warned “Western values” were threatened in a February speech to the parliament. Prime Minister Juha Sipila announced his intentions to let refugees stay at his house a day earlier. (RELATED: Mass Migration Causing ‘Stark Transformation’ of Western Values, European Leaders Says)

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