Fares Al-Abaidi: “I was very disappointed [with the sentence, and] it was a very, very bad decision.”

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Fares Al-Abaidi got a hard lesson on Wednesday from the Southern Ostrobothnia district court on Finnish justice: only one person was convicted after a group of white Finns attacked him in June 2020. That person, PV, was forced to pay Al-Abaidi about 3,900 euros for his suffering.  

“He got away with only a fine while my life changed completely,” he said. “I was very disappointed [with the sentence],” he admitted. “It was a very, very bad decision.”

Al-Abaidi said that his lawyer had appealed the court decision.

Some questions arise when looking at the case.

  • Its long 26-month length;
  • Not all of the suspects were questioned by the police;
  • No hate crime charges were brought; racism had nothing to do with the cause of the incident;
  • The district court judge gave his sentence on the same day as the trial began, which is extremely rare in Finland.

Were all these factors due to limited police resources?

Fares Al-Obaidi’s car after it was vandalized in June 2020. The police did not rule out a hate crime back then. Source: Migrant Tales

He said that only one person was sentenced because he was the only one who admitted to hitting him.

“Nobody else admitted anything,” he added. “I don’t know why the police chose to charge only one person. I told my attorney that it wasn’t only one person [who attacked me]. There were more than one.”

Al-Abaidi stated in December 2020: “The fact that I know nothing about my case [and the charges], gives me the impression that what happened to me isn’t important to the police. Those who attacked me are walking freely with no consequences.”

Fares admits that his life changed by the events of early June.

“I no longer feel safe when going outside,” he continued. “I moved to another city [to Espoo from Kristiinankaupunki]. I have to take sleeping pills because I suffer from sleep disorders and have a tough time concentrating at school.”

Al-Abaidi said that his attacker laughed and smiled while he spoke in court.

Another surprise of the case is that racism wasn’t at play. There were no hate crime charges, even if the police did not rule out such a possibility at the beginning of the investigation. “I said at the trial that they attacked me and called me several times racist words like mamu [derogatory term for migrant] and the n-word,” he said.

Migrant Tales spoke with the prosecutor Esa Luomala at the end of July, and he said that what happened to Al-Abaidi was not a hate crime. According to him, the victim’s ethnicity was not the cause of the fight.

It’s like splitting hairs. Despite the prosecutor’s claims that what happened wasn’t a hate crime, I am confident that his ethnic background encouraged his attackers.

While it is surprising that only one person was fined and convicted in Al-Abaidi’s case, he should prepare for a long battle before seeing justice.