Olavi Laiho

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Mauno Olavi Laiho
Born 1907
Died 2 September 1944
Oulu
Cause of death Execution by firing squad
Nationality Finnish
Criminal penalty Death
Conviction(s) Desertion, espionage and high treason

Mauno Olavi Laiho (1907 - 2 September 1944) was the last Finn to be executed in Finland.[1]

Early life[edit]

Olavi Laiho was born as a son of a farmhand in Halikko, Finland. He was introduced to Communism very early on, and was an active member of the underground Finnish Communist Party. He moved to Turku, where he worked as construction worker. Laiho was active in sports.

Military service[edit]

During the Continuation War, Laiho was conscripted in the Finnish Army as a Private. Laiho deserted and moved in a clandestine hideaway near Turku, where he worked actively as a spy for the Soviet Union and as an aide for other deserters.

Capture, trial and execution[edit]

Laiho was caught in early 1944 and sentenced to death by military court for desertion, espionage and high treason. He was shot by military police firing squad 2 September 1944 in Oulu, two days before the armistice.[2] Although the Finnish Military Code mandated a death penalty from espionage and treason, it is likely his Communist background influenced on his sentence.

Laiho was the last Finn to be executed in Finland, and the last Finn to be executed for a military crime. A group of three Soviet infiltrators were shot on the following day for espionage. The armistice on 4 September 1944 put any further executions on hiatus. In 1945, all death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

Death penalty from military crimes was abolished in Finland 1972.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Penkkala-Arikka, Päivi (2006) Erään Mauno Olavin tarina. Olavi Laiho, viimeinen teloitettu suomalainen ["A Story of one Mauno Olavi. Olavi Laiho, the last executed Finn."]. (Master's thesis) University of Helsinki
  2. ^ Kulomaa, Jukka and Nieminen, Jarmo: Teloitettu totuus - kesä 1944. (Executecd Truth - Summer 1944) Ajatus Kirjat, Helsinki, October 2008. ISBN 978-951-20-7772-4