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Espoo pizzeria arson suspect sent for psychiatric evaluation

Espoo District Court has ordered psychiatric evaluation of a man suspected of being behind an arson attack that completely destroyed a pizzeria last June. The court says it will consider which charges to press only after the evaluation takes place.

A pizzeria in Espoo's Lintuvaara district was completely destroyed in the fire. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

The District Court of Espoo has ordered a suspect in an arson attack that took place in late June of this year to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. 

An interim decision from the court has determined that the suspect was guilty of setting a pizzeria on fire in the capital region city's district of Lintuvaara. The eating establishment was completely destroyed, but the customers and employees were able to escape without injury. The District Court determined that this first attack placed eight people in mortal danger.

The interim decision also determined that a second suspect also tossed a bottle containing flammable liquid into another restaurant operating in the same building, presenting a danger to one person who was present. This person escaped and then used a fire extinguisher to try and put out the first blaze.

The District Court has already reached the conclusion that the actions of the first defendant were illegal. It has reserved judgement on the nature of the charges until the psychiatric evaluation is complete. Charges for the other suspects involved in the case will also be levied only after the evaluation.

Prosecutor: Nine attempted murders

The prosecutor in the case has called for ten year jail terms for the four male suspects. Three are accused of aggravated vandalism and nine counts of attempted murder, while the fourth suspect is charged with incitement to commit the crimes.

A fifth female suspect is accused of assisting the men by driving them to the crime scene.  The court's interim decision says she encouraged the crimes with her actions.

Prosecutors maintain that the crimes were motivated by events at the restaurant on the previous day, in which one of the suspects was involved in an incident that landed him in jail. This suspect has denied in court that he sought to commit murders or serious offense.