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Suspected bus captor cleared of hijacking charges

The Central Finland District Court convicted the suspect on the lesser charges of endangerment and gross negligence.

Linja-auto sisältä.
File photo, not associated with the case. Image: YLE / Tuuli Liekari

A 32-year-old man suspected of hijacking a bus, assault, drug use, operating a motor vehicle without a license and resisting police was cleared of the charges on Tuesday in the Central Finland District Court, avoiding a potential three-year prison sentence.

The man was however found guilty of public endangerment and gross negligence, resulting in 80 day fines of six euros, or a total of 480 euros.

Additionally, because the suspect had been held in remand since 5 December, the district court viewed the punishment as already having been served, and he was therefore free to go.

The incident occurred in Jyväskylä, on a night bus from Helsinki to the northwestern city of Oulu. In the Tuesday ruling, the court found there wasn't sufficient evidence to show that that the suspect, whom police described as being "of foreign background", had intentionally interfered with the operation of the bus or intentionally tried to interfere with the driver's steering.

Driver never lost control of the wheel

The man was accompanied on the bus by three acquaintances. After running to the front of the bus three times, the man yelled "Allahu Akbar (God is great)" several times and ran to the front of the bus again. He eventually grabbed the driver of the bus by the hand and appeared to be highly agitated, however his three companions managed to subdue him. After a few more kilometres, the driver of the bus pulled over and called the police.

The driver of the bus said the suspect in the case grabbed his right hand, but not the wheel. The 40-year veteran bus driver said he was able to maintain a tight grip on the steering wheel and no danger to the passengers was presented.

During the investigation, the suspect admitted to daily narcotics use. He also said he had received an influenza vaccination before the bus trip.

Traces of cannabis and metabolic substances were detected in his blood. He also admitted to resisting the police, explaining that he felt they had treated him badly.

The prosecutor in the case said the incident was unrelated to a similar alleged hijacking attempt in the south-western town of Loimaa in December.

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