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Three convicted over accidental shooting of conscript

One conscript died of friendly fire during a training exercise in 2015 in Syndalen, Southern Finland. Courts sentenced two people to fines and one officer to 60 days in prison.

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Three of four original suspects were charged of manslaughter and negligence. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

The Western Uusimaa District Court on Friday sentenced two people to pay fines and one person to 60 days incarceration over the accidental shooting of a conscript in 2015.

The fatal accident occurred during a low-visibility exercise at the Naval Academy training facility at Syndalen, Southern Finland.

A chief petty officer acting as the operations supervisor was sentenced by the court to 60 income-based day fines. The officer candidate who shot his fellow student by accident was sentenced to 30 day fines. The lieutenant in charge of the shooting exercise received a suspended prison sentence of 60 days.

All the convictions were for manslaughter and criminal negligence in the line of duty. A fourth officer was acquitted of the same offenses.

The practice operation was intended to train candidates to fire upon illuminated targets in the dark. The Safety Investigation Authority later found that the exercise was too demanding for the conscripts' skill level.

Confusion in the dark

During the training exercise a troop of officer candidates was instructed to fire upon glowing targets representing enemy soldiers. The gunnery officer raised and lowered the targets with a remote control. The candidates had glow sticks attached to their helmets.

The exercise entailed the squads firing on the targets, retreating and resuming firing. The convicted officer candidate fired his assault rifle at one of the targets during the retreat maneuver, just as another officer candidate was rising into shooting position.

The officer candidate died immediately.

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