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Home NATIONALNiinistö strict to punish convicted criminals
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Tue, 24 Dec, 2013 12:44:26 AM
4 out of 170 get president’s clemency in 2 years
FTimes-STT Report, December 24
File picture: President Sauli Niinistö. Photo – Lehtikuva.
During his two years in office, President Sauli Niinistö has been very strict in granting clemency to convicted criminals, compared to the previous presidents.
Niinistö granted mercy petition of only four convicted criminals during his presidential period from 2011 to 2013, although a total 170 petitions were placed seeking clemency.
According to the official records, on an average, 17 presidential mercy petitions out of 160 to 170 were granted between 2008 and 2010.
Apart from exercising very little of his clemency power, the incumbent president also expressed his views against the provision for presidential clemency.
He was the only candidate who expressed opinion for abolishing the power of presidential clemency during the last election campaigning.
During the campaign, he told a Finnish language newspaper Helsinki Sanomat that the system was old-fashioned and it should be repealed.
He also stated that the clemency should be exercised based on the statement to be provided by the Supreme Court and the authority for granting mercy should be shifted to the court instead of the president. 
The president’s right to grant mercy for the convicted criminals is a highly controversial issue as the president is not required to give any explanations to anybody about the compassionate decisions.   
In Finland, the mercy petitions has generally been granted to the convicted prisoners who were seriously sick or had similar situations. 
The common practice was to accept the mercy petitions of the prisoners who got life sentence and served 10 to 15 years. 
Presidential mercy system was the only way that the convicted with a life sentence could get relief until 2006.
From 2006, a new legislation also empowered the Helsinki Court of Appeals to release prisoners with life sentences on parole. 
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