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Prosecutor seeks life sentence for Turku stabber who "received an order from heaven"

A Finnish prosecutor is seeking a life term for Abderrahman Bouanane, who has admitted stabbing 10 people in Turku last summer, claiming that he received an "order from heaven" to do so.

Surijat ovat tuoneet muistokynttilöitä ja kukkia Turun perjantaisen puukotusiskun uhreille Turun kauppatorille lauantaina 19. elokuuta 2017.
Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Deputy state prosecutor Raija Toiviainen is seeking a life sentence for Abderrahman Bouanane, who has admitted stabbing ten people in August in the Turku Market Square. Two people were killed in the attack and eight others were wounded.

Bouanane's trial started in Turku on Tuesday with a preliminary session.

Those injured in the attack and the families of the deceased are demanding half a million euros in compensation for permanent injuries, loss of income and mental anguish.

As decided by Toiviainen previously, the Moroccan will be tried on two counts of murder with terrorist intent and eight counts of attempted murder with terrorist intent, as his objective was to create fear among members of the public.

Lawyer Kaarlo Gummerus, who is defending Bouanane, said his client denies his acts had a terrorist intent. However, Bouanane concedes that his actions meet the criteria of a crime committed with a terrorist intent.

Earlier in March, Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare announced that based on a psychiatric evaluation Bouanane is criminally responsible for his actions.

Preliminary investigation released

The 1,400-page preliminary investigation released on Tuesday shows that Bouanane envisaged a plan to carry out an attack with knives the previous night after purportedly receiving “an order from heaven” for the deed.

However, Bouanane was concerned that the police would catch him if he tried to purchase a knife and he therefore took two kitchen knives from a friend’s home in Kaarina, near Turku, where he had stayed that night.

The suspect told the police that he initially planned to attack soldiers but he changed his plans, because regular people also kill “normal and innocent civilians.”

After arriving in Turku on 18 August, Bouanane visited a local mosque and recorded a religious manifesto on his mobile phone. After he posted the video online, he became anxious to carry out the plan as, in his words, “he had to do something before getting caught.”

According to the investigation, Bouanane told the police that his goal was to spread the word about the terrorist group ISIS and to make it clear that "the Islamic State is not little or hopeless and that they also have soldiers here." Bouanane told the investigators he remembers striking three victims but he does not know whether they died.

Bouanane had told investigators that he was not particularly religious before Ramadan last year (in May-June) but had begun to watch ISIS-related material online during that period. He had also planned to travel to Syria to fight in the war there.

Witnesses told the police that Bouanane had also tried to brainwash them to become followers of ISIS.

The main hearing is expected to begin in April.

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