The southwest Finland District Court ruled on Friday that Anneli Auer – who was declared innocent of her husband’s murder after a convoluted trial that began in 2015 – will not receive some 2.5 million euros in additional compensation that she claimed from the state.
Instead, the court awarded Auer 22,000 euros in addition to the nearly half-a-million payout she had already received in 2016 for wrongful imprisonment, loss of income and emotional distress.
At the time, the award was the highest compensation award ever paid out in Finnish criminal history. Auer had spent a total of 611 days in prison. The court awarded her a record 800 euros per day in damages, compared to the usual wrongful detention compensation of about 100 euros per day.
Auer herself calculated that she had accumulated more than 1,000 days in prison, taking into consideration the time she served during the murder investigation into her husband’s death as well as the investigation into sex crimes charges on which she was separately convicted.
Court: Basis of new claim covered by previous payout
In her court filing, Anneli Auer argued that she was entitled to additional compensation because the extended loss of liberty related to the murder case essentially destroyed her relationship with her three younger children.
According to a business plan for websites that she managed, Auer would have earned a minimum of 700,000 euros over a five-year period, if imprisonment had not cut off her career as an entrepreneur. However the state assessed that Auer’s business - centring on a parenting website - had not been successful.
The court based its decision on the fact that it did not consider the growth projections for Auer Media to be realistic or credible. The court found that the arguments that Auer made in her filing, including damage to close relationships and negative publicity had already been considered when the courts previously granted nearly 500,000 euros in damages.
However the court decided to compensate Auer for losses incurred during probation and the loss of prison vacation as well as additional compensation for time spent in a police prison.
At the same time, the judge called on Auer to pay the state 17,300 euros for court expenses.
Years-long legal process
Auer’s husband, Jukka S. Lahti, was found murdered at the family home in Lahti in late 2006. Auer was not detained on suspicion of murder until three years later.
In late 2010, a district court sentenced Auer to life in prison, but in summer 2011, an appeals court overturned the conviction. The Supreme Court later sent the case back to the lower could for a retrial when new evidence emerged.
Once again, the district court convicted Auer and the appeal court overturned the sentence. The Supreme Court gave prosecutors no further leave to appeal the ruling and Auer was formally declared innocent in December 2015.