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Police release investigation material on Koskela teen's death

Material released by police on Monday sheds more light on the events that led to the death of a 16-year-old boy in Helsinki in December.

Koskelan murhapaikka 17.2.2021, kun tapauksen oikeuskäsittely alkoi.
A 16-year-old boy was killed in a particularly violent way in Helsinki in December. Three of his peers are suspected of murdering him. Image: Petteri Juuti / Yle

The trial of three teenagers accused of murdering a 16-year-old boy in the Koskela district of Helsinki last December began at Helsinki District Court last week.

On Monday, the preliminary investigation material was made public. The material includes messages sent between the suspects in the days leading up to, and following the boy's death.

As part of the criminal investigation, police went through messages sent by the three teens suspected of murder. The messages reveal that the suspects oscillated between covering up their act and feeling remorseful in the weekend following the tragic events.

At the time of the act, the three accused were 16 years old. Two of the suspects have since turned 17.

All three deny the charge of murder.

Two of the accused however admitted to being guilty of aggravated assault and aggravated involuntary manslaughter, while the third admits only to committing assault.

A long history of bullying

According to information released to the public, the victim had been bullied for a long time, and social services and schools failed to help or protect him. Information from the police also revealed that one of the suspects had possibly bullied the victim since they were both in kindergarten.

"[The victim] sometimes reminded me that I bullied [the victim] in kindergarten. We were both bullied in Käpylä primary school while we were in the first grade," one of the suspects told police.

However, the suspect denied bullying the victim before the autumn's events, when the violence towards the victim started to escalate. During police interrogations, the suspects described the victim as 'kind' and 'odd'.

According to the police, the victim was used as a "rag doll" and others had fun at his expense. Eventually, the violence led to an extremely brutal act of violence on December 4 on the grounds of Koskela Hospital.

"I was somehow really angry"

The three teens had met with the victim numerous times previously, and some sort of punishment game had been played, which had led to the victim being beaten and humiliated. Based on messages sent by the trio, the violence on 4 December had been planned in advance.

"We'll start beating [the victim] when [the victim] has had nearly all the booze," one of the suspects had messaged another before the meeting.

One suspect’s account states that the starting point for the fatal violence was when the suspect, who had known the victim since kindergarten, kicked him in the leg. After that, the victim was beaten, among other things, punched, kicked, jumped on top of and beaten with a metal bar.

According to pre-trial material released by the police, the violence was exceptionally brutal, humiliating and prolonged. At the end of it, the victim was left lying outside in the cold, with his clothes partially stripped off.

According to the prosecution, the cause of the victim's death was several rib fractures, brain contusion and brain haemorrhage caused by the injuries.

"I was somehow really angry. It was a bit like a feeling inside me, and I didn't think it was aimed at anyone. The feeling didn't get any easier," the oldest of the suspects described during the police interrogation.

According to the two younger suspects, the oldest suspect was the one who had done most of the beating. The older suspect initially admitted to the police that he also felt he had "somehow done the most". However, he later added that all three were in an equally big role.

"They started this with those punishment games," the oldest suspect said.

"We'll get away with it if something happens"

The morning after the death, the two younger suspects visited the scene and collected empty beer cans. In messages they sent to each other, the trio went through the events of the night before.

"This is such fucking shit and I'd like to undo everything we did," one of the suspects messaged to another.

None of the three teenagers called the emergency services, or told any adults about what happened over the weekend. Instead, they scoured the Internet for information on how to destroy any traces of DNA left at the crime scene, and whether they could dispose of the victim’s body.

"We're in Finland so we'll get away with it if something happens," the oldest of the three had messaged the others.

It had already become evident that some of the messages may have been meant to be found by the police. According to the prosecutor, the two younger suspects comforted each other and laid blame on the oldest suspect's shoulders in their messages.

"He has something awful to tell me"

On Monday at 8.05 am, a builder working on the hospital grounds found the victim, and called the emergency response centre. At the same time, the parents of one of the suspects had already guessed that something was wrong.

Their son had been sick throughout the weekend, and he had even gone to get a coronavirus test because of his symptoms.

"I just came out of the shower and now I'm trying to figure out how to say this," the boy had written in a message to his friend, one of the other suspects.

At 10am on Monday, the boy's mother found out what had happened, and called the emergency response centre. The police were still at the scene at the Koskela Hospital grounds at the time.

"This morning he then told me he has something awful to tell me," the suspect's mother said later that day during a police interrogation.

"I don't know if it was fear and panic that made them not call the emergency response centre."

The suspect had also told his girlfriend about the victim's death the day before. According to her, however, the boyfriend had not mentioned his own involvement in the events, but had said the oldest suspect had beaten the victim to death.

According to the girlfriend's account, she had advised her boyfriend to tell his parents what had happened. The boy refused because he had wanted to spend one more normal evening with his family.

During the police investigation following the death, police questioned each suspect on several occasions. None of them could tell a reason for why they had treated the victim cruelly.

Charges of murder, assault, robbery and incitement

The three boys are on trial for murder in the Helsinki District Court.

Murder is usually punishable by life imprisonment, but because the suspects are minors, they cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment. Minors can be sentenced to two to 12 years imprisonment for murder.

In addition to the murder charges, the prosecutor has filed charges for a total of nine assaults, robbery and incitement to robbery for previous incidents.

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