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Private hospice firm faces murder, extortion charges in court

The suspected offences relate to the treatment of hospice patients between 2009 and 2014.

Vanhuksen käsi.
There are several serious suspected crimes suspicions associated with the operation of a private hospice. File photo. Image: Eleni Paspatis / Yle

The District Court of Southwest Finland on Thursday began proceedings in a trial in which six people stand accused of a string of serious crimes in relation to the treatment of patients at home run by a small private hospice firm.

The offences are suspected to have taken place over the course of a five and a half year period, from December 2009 to May 2015.

The firm at the centre of the case, Kotisairaala Luotsi, had a four-year contract with the city of Turku that ended in late 2014, during which time the company was responsible for the care of about 185 patients.

Police said they uncovered exceptionally serious neglect and wrongdoing during a two-year preliminary investigation into the firm's home hospice operations between 2011 and 2014.

Several charges have been brought against a former nurse who served as the firm’s CEO, including murder and aggravated counts of extortion, embezzlement, forgery, a drug offence as well as two aggravated assaults. The prosecutor said that since the victim was an incapacitated patient in convalescent care, their death should be treated as a murder.

The prosecutor filed aggravated extortion and aggravated forgery charges against a doctor who served as the company's Chief Human Resources Officer.

Turku city officials also on trial

In addition to the CEO and Chief HRO of Kotisairaala Luotsi, charges have also been brought against four officials of the City of Turku. The prosecutor in the case has alleged that they each breached their duty of care by failing to monitor the service agreement with Luotsi.

Detective Inspector Mika Paaer of the Southwestern Finland Police Department, who led the police’s investigation, described the suspected crimes as "exceptional" and added that the case was of "social significance".

"The victims were vulnerable people. The care provider has misused a highly-trusted position in a way that endangered their lives and health," Paaer said at the time of the investigation.

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