Finnish bouncers and excessive force

From the original Ovi magazine (Ovi lehti in Finnish)

On Saturday night my English neighbour and his Finnish wife went out for a few drinks with some friends before they bid farewell to Finland and began their new life back in Britain. Midway through their evening at Zetor, a theme restaurant/nightclub in the centre of Helsinki, my friend underwent some brutal physical abuse from the club’s security staff after he foolishly punched a Finnish man who had been sexually harassing his wife and then tried to steal her handbag.

I have given considerable thought to the approach I should take to writing this, since my friend’s actions did deserve the attention of the bouncers, but – and this is the key point – the bouncers had no excuse for the extent of their retribution. Three members of Zetor’s security jumped on my friend, who I’ll call J, and inflicted severe wounds upon his forehead, face, throat, upper body and left knee, while at one point J almost lost consciousness due to the strange hold.

The incident, as related by J and his wife, goes as follows: Mrs J and her friend were harassed during the night and when their tolerance was exhausted they told the guy to stop. The guy then returned with Zetor’s security staff and before their very eyes the man tried to snatch the handbag, which J happened to be holding. J foolishly punched the man in the heat of the moment and three bouncers were on him in seconds.

One had his arm around his throat, another was forcing J’s arms behind his back and then when on the ground another sat on his legs. J managed to wriggle one of hands free to signal that he was about to pass out, yet the bouncers grabbed his hands and tied them behind his back with a plastic tie strap. Face down and with your hands secured behind your back would be considered by many to be restrained, but the bouncers did not stop.

A member of the supposedly professionally-trained security staff grabbed J’s head and smashed it into the ground repeatedly, which is evident from the severe friction burns on his face and forehead. J hadn’t been brandishing a weapon or shouting abuse, and one witness, who was not part of J’s group, gave police a statement stating this. The arrival of the police signalled the start of part two of J’s nightmare.

Despite the fact his face was bleeding and there was a danger of concussion from the beating security staff had inflicted, J received no medical attention all night and was even denied access to a lavatory, while locked in a cell unfit for any human or animal. His wife didn’t know where he had been taken and had no way to contact him until he got home the following morning. The Finnish police then made an incredibly amateur mistake by asking J to sign a Finnish statement, which will result in the case being thrown out once it reached court.

J flies back home to the UK today and will be taking back very few, if any, good impressions of Finland. He will have to face airport security with his scabbed face, plus he will have to start his new job with a damaged knee that will certainly be aggravated by the weight of the luggage they are transporting back to England. J’s Finnish wife felt obligated to apologise to her husband for ever bringing him to this country and they are both returning with a bitter taste of this country in their mouths.

Back home in England he will tell this story and people will be shocked. They will be shocked primarily by the fact that Zetor and its security staff will escape any kind of punishment or bad publicity, thereby ensuring that other patrons are under threat from these bullies. It is for this reason that I have decided to write an Ovi editorial to hopefully safeguard you from the bouncers at Zetor because, as a friend of J’s wife said, nothing will change or happen due to the fact that all anybody will say, “It’s Finland!”

Can you imagine if this situation happened in England or another EU country? Can you imagine somebody dismissing the entire incident with a, “Well, it’s England!” The ignorance, the arrogance, the outright stupidity of that statement is what keeps this country on the same track, destined to relive these miscarriages of justice ad infinitum. It is time for people in Finland to stop blaming the country and point the finger back at themselves because they are the ones that turn the blind eye allowing it to happen.

My final warning: Avoid Zetor.

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