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Court convicts two men for Joensuu assault on Namibian students

The unprovoked attack took place in a city centre park in the middle of the day.

Peruskorjattu Vapaudenpuisto pilvisenä syksyisenä päivänä. Käytävät ovat vielä viimeistelemättömiä.
The incident took place in Vapaudenpuisto, or Freedom Park, in the city of Joensuu. Image: Jouki Väinämö / Yle

North Karelia District Court has handed down prison sentences to two men for a violent assault on two African students in Joensuu’s Vapaudenpuisto (or Freedom Park) in September 2018.

Police believe the motive for the unprovoked, daytime assault was racist.

A 21-year-old man was sentenced to serve a total of 3 months in prison for two charges of assault and an illegal threat, while a 35-year-old man received a total of six months in prison for the two charges of assault and other crimes unrelated to the case.

The court heard that at the time of the incident, there were a group of about seven Finnish people congregated in the park, some of whom began shouting racist comments at the two victims, who were students at the University of Eastern Finland.

The perpetrators then attacked the victims, striking them several times in the head as well as kicking them in the middle and upper parts of the body. The victims were also threatened with a knife.

The perpetrators and the victims were not known to each other before the incident.

Local newspaper Karjalainen reported that the victims of the assault currently live in Namibia, and their participation in the case required significant co-operation between Finnish and Namibian authorities.

In a separate case last spring, the younger of the two convicted men was found guilty of stabbing a 26-year-old man 11 times in a dispute over 50 euros and a packet of cigarettes. The victim later died at the scene.

No verdict has yet been handed down in that case, as the perpetrator has been sent for psychological evaluation.

Edit: Headline updated at 11:13 on 17 October to indicate that the victims of the attack were Namibian.

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