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Finland’s first terror attack: Life sentence for Turku stabber

For the first time, a Finnish court has decreed that a crime was a terrorist act. It sentenced a man who killed two people and wounded eight in Turku last year to life in prison.

The suspect in court as his trial began. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The District Court of South-West Finland has found a Moroccan man guilty on two counts of murder with terrorist intent and eight counts of attempted murder with terrorist intent, and sentenced him to life in prison. This marks the first time that a crime in Finland has been legally classified as terrorism.

The court declared that the attacks were carried out in a premeditated and exceptionally cruel manner.

The court in Turku, where Abderrahman Bouanane carried out the assault last summer, handed down its ruling on Friday afternoon. The defence may appeal the decision.

The 23-year-old admitted to killing two women and injuring eight other people on and near Turku’s main square in August. His trial proceedings began in April.

Psychological testing determined that he was sane at the time of the stabbings.

No claim of responsibility from ISIS

The main question during the five weeks of hearings and deliberations centred on whether his acts were motivated by terrorism, making it the first case of its kind in Finland.

The prosecutors argued – successfully – that the attacks constituted murder with terrorist intent and attempted murder with terrorist intent. The defence claimed that they fit the standard definition of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter – despite the fact that their client himself described the attacks as terrorism.

Bouanane released a video before the stabbing spree, claiming it in the name of ISIS. The terror group has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

The man arrived in Finland in 2016 as an asylum seeker, but his application was rejected later that year. He has been in prison in Turku since the attack.

The average length of a ‘life sentence’ in Finland is just over 14 years. A convict may be eligible for release after 12 years, while the longest prison term ever lasted 22 years.