Founder of Finland’s anti-migrant ‘Soldiers of Odin’ convicted of aggravated assault

Mika Ranta, founder of the 'Soldiers of Odin' pictured on February 5, 2016 in Kemi. © Sam Kingsley
One of the founders of far-right anti-refugee Finnish group the 'Soldiers of Odin' has been slapped with a suspended sentence of 18 months, a fine and community service for an assault on a man and a woman resulting in a broken jaw.

The group, named for the Norse god of war and death, roams the streets of their native Finland and neighboring states, claiming to protect locals from immigrant attacks. It was founded last year in the northern Finnish town of Kemi. The group says its actions are in response to local police struggling with the sheer number of crimes since the migrant influx last year.

The group accuses “Islamist intruders” of increasing crime and distributes placards reading, “Migrants not welcome.”

The accused is Mika Ranta, 29, who has been sentenced for aggravated assault on a man that also resulted in violence against a woman who tried to stop it from happening. Both of the victims were Finnish citizens.

Ranta got 18 months suspended sentence for assault and aggravated assault, and is also facing 50 hours of community service and a compensation payment of 7,000 euros to the male victim, who had his jaw broken in the attack.

Ranta refused to talk to the press.

The group claims on Facebook that it has chapters in at least 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, France and the United States, Reuters reports.

Fears have spiked over the recent activity of the Soldiers of Odin, which has far-right leanings and neo-Nazi supporters, and the emergence of other similar movements in the country in the wake of last year’s arrival of some 250,000 asylum seekers to the Scandinavian and Baltic region. The authorities fear that citizens could be persuaded into carrying out vigilante attacks.