A man has gone on trial in Turku, accused of trying to commandeer a bus in Loimaa on 4 December.
Proceedings began at the District Court of Southwest Finland on Thursday, two days after another suspect was cleared of hijacking charges in a similar case dating back to 5 December. Loimaa is some 70km from Turku.
The Loimaa suspect faces charges of hijacking or attempted hijacking, as well as attempted assault and endangering traffic safety.
Prosecutors say he grabbed the wheel of a bus and turned it so that the vehicle struck another bus in the opposite lane. The buses were dented, but no-one was injured.
Suspect "not himself" at the time
The man did not explain his actions during interrogation. In court, he claimed that he is innocent, denying that he tried to cause an accident, adding that he was "not himself" at the time. He said he was depressed and panicky as his asylum application had just been rejected.
The suspect boarded the bus without paying his fare, sitting down in the front seat without saying anything. According to the driver, he seemed agitated.
As the bus was returning from Hirvikoski toward the centre of Loimaa, the suspect suddenly got up and grabbed the steering wheel with both hands. The prosecutor says he tried to change the vehicle's direction of travel.
The driver pushed the suspect away. He then returned to his seat.
The bus nearly collided with another bus, but they only grazed each other. The driver says that there was nearly a head-on collision, though. At the time the bus was moving at a speed of 32 kilometres an hour.
There were six passengers in the first bus, and about 10 school pupils in the oncoming bus.
Parallel case in Central Finland
The following afternoon, a similar incident occurred on a bus in the city of Jyväskylä, some 250km away in Central Finland. Authorities had previously described it as taking place in the neighbouring municipality of Uurainen.
On Tuesday, the District Court of Central Finland dismissed the charge of hijacking against the man, who was born in 1987 and had yelled "Allahu Akbar (God is great)" while trying to grab the vehicle's steering wheel. Instead he was convicted on a lesser charge of endangerment. He was fined and released.
The District Prosecutor of Central Finland, Janna-Maria Meriläinen, said she will monitor the Loimaa trial before deciding whether to appeal the decision in the Jyväskylä case.
The incidents took place within 24 hours of each other and both involved men in their 30s described by authorities as being "of foreign background". However police say there is no connection between the cases.