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Finnish police failed to prevent school massacre: Rights body

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STRASBOURG: Finnish police failed to protect the lives of students and a teacher by granting a gun licence to a man who later carried out a classroom massacre, Europe’s human rights judges ruled on Thursday.

Ten people were gunned down in Sept 2008 in a classroom at the Kauhajoki vocational college in western Finland by Matti Saari, who also died in the attack.

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights ruled six to one in favour of claims by the victims’ relatives that Finnish police had failed in their duty of diligence by granting the killer a gun licence months before the attack.

The court found that police were aware of internet postings in which the 22-year-old wrote enthusiastically about previous school shootings, which “cast doubt on whether the perpetrator could safely remain in possession of a firearm,“ according to the judgement seen by AFP.

Police interviewed Saari the day before the attack, but decided not to take away his weapon.

Seizing the perpetrator’s weapon “would not have involved any particularly difficult or delicate balancing exercise,“ the court said, concluding that Finland violated Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to life.

Finnish authorities were ordered to pay 30,000 euros (RM 146,000) to each victim’s household, and 31,571 euros (RM 154,000) to one applicant for loss of earnings following the death of his mother, as well as the claimants’ court costs.

The 2008 massacre came just months after another school shooting in Finland which claimed eight lives and that of the gunman.

The murders led to the government introducing tighter gun laws in the Nordic nation in 2010. — AFP

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