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Tuesday's papers: Fire in Tampere, Turku stabbing court case begins, plans to curb cars in Helsinki, and an escaped con

Finnish papers discuss a fire in a Tampere housing block, Turku attacker Abderrahman Bouanane's court case, drastic measures Helsinki is considering to cut carbon emissions, and more.

Palokunta sammuttaa tulipaloa Tampereen keskustassa tiistaiaamuna 20. maaliskuuta.
The fire in Tampere Image: Mari Vesanummi / Yle

This Tuesday morning Aamulehti's website leads with reports of a fire in a housing block early this morning in Tampere city centre. Rescue services were dispatched to the blaze at shortly after 5 am.

An eyewitness said that flames were still visible after 7 am, and copious amounts of black smoke were still coming from the eight-storey building. Fire chief Matti Saarinen told AL that the building was not fully evacuated, as there was no danger to residents in the lower floors.

Trial of Turku stabbing suspect begins

Jyväskylä paper Keskisuomalainen discusses the start of the court trial of 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.

The case begins today at Southwest Finland's District Court in Turku at 7 am. The first stage is the so-called preliminary preparation, in which the allegations, disputed and undisputed matters are examined, along with the demands and responses of the parties involved. The main hearing will begin in April at the Turku prison where Bouanane is being held. Bouanane and his victims are not required to attend the preliminary session.

KSLM reports that Deputy Prosecutor Raija Toiviainen and the two other prosecutors in the case submit that the accused acted with terrorist intent, hoping to strike fear in the population. Preliminary investigations suggest that Bouanane admired the Islamic State terrorist group and considered himself an ISIS soldier.

Helsinki considering road tolls and 100% increase in parking fees

The country's largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat features a story this Tuesday on Helsinki's future plans to cut back on private car use in the city. The paper says a draft proposal from city officials has proposed both road tolls and doubled parking fees as a way to curb pollution and move in a more ecological direction.

Reducing carbon emissions is one of the Helsinki' city council's top projects. In 2016, the capital city released 2,700 kilotonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. An ambitious strategy approved last autumn has made the promise that Helsinki will be carbon neutral by the year 2035.

Tolls would require decisions on a national level, and therefore the Helsinki proposal says a trial could be feasible in the 2020s at the earliest. A 100 percent hike in parking fees could, however, become reality much sooner, as Helsinki decision-makers can decide on this autonomously. HS warns that this could become an agenda item for the city council to decide on in the next few years.

The paper notes that a 2016 study from Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) envisions a congestion charge of 340 euros annually for motorists driving in the city centre. This model would mimic a system that has been in place in Stockholm already for over ten years. Surveys of Swedes indicate that 70 percent of the population has been satisfied with the congestion charge, as it has been seen to be very successful in reducing private vehicle use in the city centre.

TV star policeman saves the day

And the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat has a story on an escaped prisoner from the southern city of Mikkeli, who walked out of the Naarajärvi open prison facility in Pieksämäki last April.

The man had been serving a life sentence after having been found guilty in 2007 of stabbing a man to death and then burning the house to hide the evidence. After he went missing the police caught up with him quickly. He was inside a flat in the Suonsaari district of Mikkeli. The convict became very agitated when the police pulled up in front of the building he was hiding in. He refused to come out and threatened to blow up the flat, the police and himself.

The potentially explosive situation was defused however when senior constable Harri Pajunen appeared on the scene. The escaped prisoner recognized Pajunen as one of the policemen featured on the popular "Poliisit" TV show in Finland, and immediately surrendered without resistance.

IS reports the man later said he had had a bad day, because he had gotten into a disagreement with his wife and the prison staff. He admitted that he had overreacted when the police drove up, but said that he had just wanted to enjoy his beer in peace. No explosives were found in the residence.

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