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Prosecutor requests delay in Kuopio sabre attack trial

The request was due to an incomplete mental health assessment of a man who allegedly killed one and injured nine others.

Kuopio koulusurma kynttilät.
The site of the sabre attack at the Savo Vocational College in Kuopio, which took place on October 1, 2019. Image: Simo Pitkänen / Yle
Yle News

Prosecutors have requested for a trial deadline extension in the case of a man accused of killing one woman and injuring nine others in a sabre attack at a vocational school last October.

The delay request was filed because the police's preliminary investigation will not be ready by the 13 February deadline, a date which was set last autumn. The prosecution said the delay was due to an incomplete mental health assessment of the suspect.

Northern Savo District Court ordered that a mental health assessment be carried out on the suspect by a psychiatric team from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). According to the Mental Health Act, court-ordered mental examinations may take up to two months. However, THL has the legal right, under certain circumstances, to receive additional two-month extensions for such assessments to be carried out.

The evaluation will determine whether the suspect was fully aware of his actions - or did not realise what he was doing - when he allegedly carried out the attack last autumn.

Following the incident on October 1, 2019, police said the suspect was a "native-born Finnish citizen" who used a sabre to attack and injure several individuals at the Savo Vocational College in Kuopio. One woman died while 10 others - including the suspect - were injured in the incident.

Deadline less than a month away

Northern Savo district court judge Juha Nieminen confirmed that the prosecution has applied for a trial deadline extension.

"At the moment, it's estimated that the mental assessment will not be complete until late spring," Nieminen said, explaining that final statements on the case will be presented in the summer.

However, no decision regarding that request had been taken by the court by late Wednesday afternoon.

Ulla Oinonen, Deputy Chief Prosecutor at Eastern Finland's prosecutor's office, said the extension request was made because the preliminary investigation was not complete.

"The mental health assessment is part of the preliminary investigation. The matter is now moving forward. We are waiting for the district court's decision on the application," Oinonen said.

Police are investigating the sabre attack as murder, attempted murder, aggravated vandalism and plotting to cause harm to life or health. The vandalism portion of the probe is related to a fire that was set during the incident.

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