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Prosecutor, defence agree Helsinki hit-and-run suspect should get psych evaluation

The 52 year-old defendant in the Helsinki hit-and-run trial should undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation, the prosecutor and defence attorney told Helsinki District Court on Monday. Last week the defendant admitted to having killed a woman after he ran down six people with his car last summer in Helsinki.

Poliisi tutkii autoa, jolla ajoi jalankulkijoiden päälle.
Police investigate a hit-and-run incident in downtown Helsinki on July 29, 2017. File photo. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

The defendant in the Helsinki hit-and-run trial may undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation, after both the prosecution and defence teams agreed it would clarify matters. The man faces charges of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and aggravated traffic endangerment.

On Monday in Helsinki District Court, prosecutor Kimmo Virtanen requested that the defendant receive a court-ordered psychological evaluation and the defence did not object to the motion, according to Virtanen.

"I requested a psychological evaluation [for him] and the defence has not objected.  Generally [an evaluation] is requested if - on the basis of collected evidence - there's a need to determine whether a person is mentally competent," Virtanen said.

The court is scheduled to issue an interim verdict on the case in about a week, when it is expected to announce whether the defendant will undergo a mental health evaluation or not.

The defendant's attorney, Tero Ala-Mieto, said that a court-ordered psychological evaluation is justified.

"During this process the man has said that he wants to have a mental health evaluation, but that was not clear from the very start," Ala-Mieto said.

Last week's hilling testimony

One woman was killed in the incident after being dragged by the car for more than 200 metres, while five others were injured on the evening of July 28 in downtown Helsinki, according to testimony given last week.

The prosecution says the man intentionally ran down the victims. The defendant has denied the manslaughter and attempted manslaughter charges, but admitted to having committed involuntary manslaughter and inflicting injury.

Last week the defendant admitted to running over six people last summer at the zebra crossing, and said that he was suffering from a panic attack and having a psychotic episode at the time.

He told the court he didn't understand what consequences of his actions would be.

"I only knew that it could go badly," he told the court.

The prosecutor is demanding a lifetime prison sentence, which would amount to a total of about 12 years.

However, if the court orders the defendant to undergo a psychological evaluation and then is found to not have been mentally competent at the time of the hit-and-run, he will not receive a prison sentence.

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