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Two social workers found guilty of criminal negligence in case of murdered 8-year-old

The public prosecutor originally pushed for probationary jail sentences for two of the social workers on whose watch an 8-year-old girl was murdered in 2012, and fines for nine others. Only two of the employees were sentenced, none were jailed and the rest were acquitted.

Murhatun 8-vuotiaan tytön tapaukseen liittyvien virkarikossyytteiden pääkäsittely alkoi maanantaina 23. helmikuuta 2015 Helsingin käräjäoikeudessa.
Two of eleven social and healthcare workers have been sentenced for negligence in a child murder case. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The Helsinki District Court has sentenced two social workers with criminal negligence in the case of the murder of an 8-year-old girl three years previously. All other charges against them and nine of their colleagues were dropped.

The Court ruled that the social worker in charge of the girl's case as well as the immediate supervisor should have taken swift action to protect the child after receiving numerous child welfare reports.

The supervisor was ordered to pay 25 day-fines for dereliction of duty, while the social worker in charge was not additionally penalised due to the intense emotional distress she has suffered since the death of 8-year-old Eerika in 2012.

The other nine officials involved in the case, including social workers and healthcare professionals, were acquitted of all charges. The acquittals were justified by the fact that the workers were not privy to the specifics of the child's welfare concerns. The girl herself never indicated that any physical or mental wrongdoing had been committed, making the situation difficult for even professionals to read.

The girl's father and his girlfriend murdered the 8-year-old by strangling her in May, 2012. Both perpetrators are currently serving life sentences in prison.

Prosecutor dissatisfied with sentencing

District prosecutor Tuire Tamminiemi says she intends to announce her dissatisfaction with the District Court's ruling. Tamminiemi says she is also considering an appeal.

"I will certainly be expressing my dissatisfaction, but I will decide whether or not to appeal it once I have had time to inspect the extensive ruling," she says. "I take issue with the justification of ignorance, because I based my charges on the lack of professional awareness of all the accused while in contact with the child."

The court ruled that individual employees could not be held culpable for the failure of their organisation's lack of communication.

Prosecutor Tamminiemi pushed for probationary jail sentences for the two social workers most responsible for the death of the child, and proposed fines for the other nine employees involved.

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