A Finnish court on Friday handed a life sentence each to two men for the contract killing of one of the men's father, via an arrangement made on the dark web.
Previously, Pirkanmaa District Court found Aatu Viljami Halonen, 20, guilty of soliciting murder and Mika Markus Aleksi Hytönen ,19, guilty of carrying out the act.
The case marked Finland's first murder-for-hire trial that was arranged online and the fourth hired killing conviction in the country in two decades.
In January 2020, Tampere police found the body of a 44-year-old man in his home, after his neighbors reported an assault taking place outside between the killer and the victim.
After arresting the suspect, police uncovered evidence the case was in fact a contract killing, ordered by the victim's son.
Hytönen confessed to having killed the victim but claimed that he only intended to rob him. The court heard that he told his fiancé he had fantasised about taking another person’s life for some time.
Dark web advert
In 2019, Hytönen posted an ad on the Tor internet network—which facilitates anonymous and encrypted online communication—offering his services as a hit man, asking to be paid in Bitcoin.
Hytönen turned Halonen into police. According to the prosecution, the motive for the hit was possibly financial, but its roots lay in the victim's treatment of the defendant as a child.
The fee for the killing, said to be 10,000 euros, was to be paid from the inheritance left behind by the victim. Through his lawyer Tomi Borgenström, Halonen continues to deny his part in his father's homicide, claiming to have been framed.
The sentencing took place nine months after Pirkanmaa District Court found then-19-year-old Hytönen guilty of murder, and 20-year-old Halonen guilty of soliciting murder. Both were ordered to undergo psychological evaluations at the time. The results were presented in court Friday morning, and both defendants were found fit to stand trial.
The verdict and sentences can still be appealed.