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Finnish court fines former NHLer Jere Karalahti for cocaine use

HELSINKI, Finland - A Finnish court fined former NHL player Jere Karalahti 1,490 euros (C$2,338) on Monday for using cocaine last year.

The Helsinki City Court found Karalahti guilty of using cocaine in March 2007, based on a photograph found on a laptop of a friend.

The photo shows a white, powdery substance in Karalahti's nose.

Last month, Karalahti told the court that it might have been cocaine, but that he could not remember because he was drunk at the time. He later retracted the statement saying he does not use drugs.

Another man who had visited the apartment where the photo was taken said he had snorted cocaine there that night.

In January, Karalahti - who plays for German team Hamburg Freezers - was given a 20-month suspended sentence for helping finance the smuggling of amphetamines and cocaine from Estonia into Finland last year. He was also fined 10,000 euros (C$15,717).

Prosecutors, who had demanded a prison sentence of four to six years for that crime, have appealed and Karalahti is to face another hearing later in an appeals court.

Karalahti left the NHL in 2002 after being suspended for six months for his third violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He played 121 games in 2000-02 for the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators.

He joined Finnish team Karpat last year after agreeing to follow the club's strict rules on alcohol and drugs. The team fired him last December during an investigation into the smuggling of drugs from Estonia. He was picked up by the Hamburg Freezers last fall.

Karalahti was voted an all-star defenceman at the 1998 and '99 world championship.


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