The pan-Nordic neo-Nazi organization Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) was outlawed in Finland in October 2020 and further shaken two months later when a love triangle involving their members resulted in murder. Samuli Matilainen, an activist in the NRM Helsinki group now stand accused of murdering NRM Pirkanmaa activist Toni Hakulinen
Toni Hakulinen was murdered in a private apartment in Riihimäki on December 5th 2020, the day before the Finnish Independence Day which for the last few years has been a day of neo-Nazi torch parades and anti-fascist counter demonstrations. Shortly after his death several details became public knowledge, and it became clear that this was an internal conflict in the Finnish neo-Nazi milieu.
In early 2021 the prosecutor decided to press charges for murder, vandalism and home invasion and the court date was set to March 8th in the Kanta-Häme District Court. According to the prosecutor, Samuli Matilainen had first vandalized the car of the victim with a kettlebell weight and then forcibly entered the apartment of Salla Silvennoinen where he had brutally murdered Toni Hakulinen.
The victim, the accused and one of the plaintiffs (Silvennoinen) are all members of the outlawed Finnish branch of the Nordic Resistance Movement, which makes this case remarkable and of public interest. Because of that, we choose to reveal the names of the participants while we simultaneously wish to respect the family of the deceased.
The victim, Toni Hakulinen (born 1979), was an key activist in the NRM local group in Pirkanmaa (the Tampere area) and the singer in Genocide Wolves, a neo-Nazi band.
The accused is Samuli Matilainen (born 1992), a Nazi activist in NRM Helsinki. One of the plaintiffs is Salla “Sally Enare” Silvennoinen who has also been active in NRM. Silvennoinen had met Matilainen through a message board connected to NRM five years earlier, and Hakulinen knew her through activism and the neo-Nazi music scene. The victim and the accused actually knew each other before they had met Salla Silvennoinen – the older Hakulinen had been a mentor and an instructor for Matilainen when he was recruited to the NRM. In the light of this information, the Nordic Resistance Movement was the main reason for the trio to know each other, and testimonies showed that they had spent much time together doing neo-Nazi activism. Each of them had several times participated in NRM street actions such as propaganda leafletting and publicly posing with banners and flags of the organization.
Matilainen has a history of hateful activism, but this case is of course remarkable due to the brutality and violence involved. One example of the activism he has been involved in is the occasion when the NRM harassed school kids in a Helsinki suburb during a racist campaign in 2018, and it was revealed that the adult Nazis had been armed with melee weapons. The same year he travelled with Silvennoinen to Oulu where they disturbed the local Pride parade together with another local NRM activist. Silvennoinen also has a criminal record, and she was sentenced for incitement to racial hatred as recently as 2019. In this case she is however a plaintiff, accusing Matilainen of home invasion.
In October 2020 the Supreme Court in Finland voted to uphold the decision to ban the NRM due to their antidemocratic, hateful, and violent activism. Violence and glorification of it are the cores of far-right ideology and activism. National socialist and fascist organizations are built around hateful and violent utopias, which is reflected in the criminal past of many of their members. Many NRM members across the Nordic countries have been sentenced for hate crimes, violent crimes, and murders. Examples of Finnish NRM members with criminal history are Jesse Torniainen, who killed a critizing bypasser at an action in 2016 and Rami Joukanen, who tortured a handicapped man to death while living in Sweden in 2007.
The criminal history of the members in this now outlawed organization supports the analysis made by anti-fascists and the Supreme Court that the NRM have the capability to violence and are a physical threat to many people.
The chain of events that led to the murder
The murder of Toni Hakulinen happened after a period of jealousy and Matilainen´s obsession with Salla Silvennoinen. The accused and the plaintiff described their relation in very different ways: Matilainen said that it was sexual while Silvennoinen described it as a mere friendship. According to Silvennoinen, she had instead gotten into a romantic relationship with Toni Hakulinen in the months before his murder.
The same autumn Matilainen had rented a separate apartment in Silvennoinen’s house, but their friendship was damaged when Matilainen had forcibly entered his landlady´s apartment in November 2020. This home invasion was not the only one, and Matilainen had also threatened her. It appears that his jealousy towards Silvennoinen had grown after she instead developed a relationship with his mentor Toni Hakulinen. Matilainen told the court that he had obsessive feelings about Silvennoinen and described them as “psychotic”. When he realized she did not share his romantic feelings he claimed to be unable to live there anymore due to the obsession and terminated his rental contract on November 30th.
The following week Hakulinen came to visit Silvennoinen and spent a night in her apartment. In her testimony Silvennoinen explained this visit was connected to the upcoming Independence Day celebrations in Helsinki. The festivities got a brutal end before they even started on December 5th. While the couple was having breakfast, Samuli Matilainen vandalized Hakulinen´s parked car with a kettlebell weight, after which he armed himself with an expandable baton and a Mora knife and broke through the door to Silvennoinen´s apartment. “What are you doing with my girl?”, he had asked which shows that the underlying motif was misogyny and jealousy towards Silvennoinen.
Matilainen got into a fight with Hakulinen (who himself was armed with a baton and brass knuckles) but got the upper hand and murdered him. According to the coroner´s report the cause of death were 50 stab wounds to the neck and torso. At this time Salla Silvennoinen had managed to escape the apartment and called the authorities.
The prosecutor claims that forensic evidence shows that the deed was done in a particularly brutal fashion, with the intent to take the victim’s life. According to the prosecutor the accused had also threatened to kill Hakulinen in messages to Silvennoinen which would imply that the killing was planned. The evidence included Matilainen´s chat logs where he explains his jealousy and fear that he might “kill Hakulinen some day”.
The defense is pleading insanity on Matilainen´s part
Matilainen admitted the vandalism and home invasion, as well as inflicting the fatal wounds to Toni Hakulinen, but not the murder. Matilainen´s lawyer agreed that the actions were brutal but protested against labeling the crime as murder, instead suggesting it was manslaughter. The defense emphasized the previous “relation between Silvennoinen and Matilainen” and tried to paint a picture of the accused as a man in love who was aware of his obsession, which he tried to “cure” by moving away from there. The defense tried to put some of the blame on Salla Silvennoinen, who had promised him by text to not have “female or male guests” before he had moved out.
The defense also claimed that Matilainen was afraid of Toni Hakulinen because Hakulinen had threatened to kill him, a message that Silvennoinen had relayed. The defense used evidence from lengthy chat logs glorifying violence and National Socialism. In one message Toni Hakulinen told Silvennoinen how happy he was to finally have “a Nazi princess and the coming Fourth Reich”.
The prosecutor argued that Matilainen´s aggressive home invasion would show that he was neither afraid nor acting in self-defense. Furthermore he had only small wounds on his hands which would imply that he was the dominant party in the fight.
Matilainen´s testimony was overall logical, he admitted his actions and was able to describe the circumstances. He did however emphasize that he had been psychotic and suffered from loss of memory and confusion. It is unclear if the defense is pleading mental instability to avoid harsh sentences and instead advocate a manslaughter charge. Because some of the court material is not public, we do not know if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time.
The prosecutor demands that Matilainen should be sentenced to life in prison for murder or minimum 11 years for manslaughter. Both the prosecutor and the defense recommended that he would go through mental examination, to which the judges agreed. Matilainen participated in the hearing via video link from a prison in Turku, where he will stay until the sentence is passed.
We will soon publish an analysis of the case (in Finnish) where we reflect on the misogynist ideas and practices of the National Socialist movement, and what this case can tell us about the crisis of the Nordic Resistance Movement.
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