Far-right British soldier pictured doing a Nazi-style salute cleared of terror offence

Far-right British soldier pictured doing a Nazi-style salute cleared of terror offence

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A serving British soldier and white supremacist who kept a photo of himself giving a Nazi-style salute has been cleared of a terrorism offence.

Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, who had a box of Nazi flags and a Hitler Youth knife in the garage of his barracks home, had been charged for allegedly possessing an “Anders Breivik manifesto”, drawn up by the Norwegian far-right terrorist who killed 77 people in an attack in 2011.

The 33-year-old, who also kept a ceremonial SS dagger representing a Nazi paramilitary group, was also cleared of two counts of stirring up racial hatred relating to forum posts on a white nationalist website.

His lawyer, Pavlos Panayi QC, told jurors at Birmingham Crown Court that while it was “not in dispute that he is a racist”, it was not a crime for Vehvilainen to hold such views.

But the married father, originally from Finland, did plead guilty to having a banned canister of CS gas, which he kept in the drawer of a home he was renovating.

The licensed firearms owner, who lived with his family at Sennybridge Camp in Brecon, also kept a number of legally-held weapons.

Eleven knives, knuckle-dusters and a face mask were found in the same container as the Nazi flags, and he kept a target dummy.

Following his arrest last September, police also found a Nazi flag pinned to the inside of his wardrobe door and a photograph of him giving a Nazi-style salute at a memorial to his native Finland’s independence.

All items were legally held, the court heard.

Vehvilainen, who kept a licensed shotgun, a crossbow, and a bow and homemade arrows, had also written to two men jailed for race crimes.

He told the men “there is still hope”.

The soldier was also found to have penned a draft of an extreme right-wing magazine he called Extinction, in which he railed against inter-race relationships, “unnatural” homosexuality and “non-whites”.

His phone showed 900 visits to white nationalist website Cristogenea.org.

Vehvilainen was on trial alongside 25-year-old Private Mark Barrett, also of the Royal Anglians, and formerly of Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore, Rutland.

Barrett was acquitted of a separate charge of membership of the proscribed far-right organisation National Action.

A 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was cleared of having Breivik’s manifesto, but convicted of three other terrorism offences.

He was found guilty of possession of a laptop “mega folder”, which prosecutors said contained “step-by-step instructions” for killing people and the manufacture of explosives.

He was also convicted of having a terrorism document called the White Resistance Manual, which had entries on “arson, sabotage and selective assassinations”, and of distributing a terrorist publication called Ethnic Cleansing Operations.

When the jury delivered their verdicts, he shouted: “It’s a complete sham.”

He and Vehvilainen, who are both in custody, will be sentenced on Friday.

(c) Sky News 2018: Far-right British soldier pictured doing a Nazi-style salute cleared of terror offence