The Verkkouutiset news website, affiliated with the ruling National Coalition, said the weapons deal by state-controlled arms producer Patria would provide Saudi Arabia with mortars worth 150 million euros ($204 million), the biggest arms deal for Finland in over a decade. An official at Finland’s defence ministry confirmed the government was reviewing the Patria mortar deal and would soon decide whether to allow it. It would not confirm the value of the sale or which country was buying the mortars. Verkkouutiset said politicians from the Social Democrats and the Green party had raised questions about whether the mortars could at some stage be used against civilians, as pro-democracy uprisings continue to sweep across the Arab world. It did not say if any minister would oppose the deal and quoted one Social Democrat member as saying it should be approved. Patria, in which European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) owns a 26.8 percent stake, announced last year it signed a deal to deliver 36 mortar systems, but did not disclose the customer or the value of the agreement. Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the United States, is ruled by an absolute monarchy which applies an austere version of Sunni Islam. Finland’s foreign ministry website says Saudi Arabia’s human rights situation is “poor”.
Jussi Rosendahl, Finland reviews Saudi arms deal on rights worries-report, Reuters, Nov. 11, 2011