Asylum seeker gets life in Finland’s first terrorism trial

Prosecutors said Abderrahman Bouanane was an Islamic State sympathiser who wanted to spread fear die as a martyr

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 10:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 10:42pm

A Moroccan asylum seeker who was the subject of Finland’s first terrorism trial was convicted on Friday of two terror-related murders and eight attempted murders from a stabbing spree in the Nordic country last year.

The southern Finland district court sentenced Abderrahman Bouanane, an alleged sympathiser of Islamic State, to life in prison after finding him guilty of the August 18 attack in Turku.

Prosecutors alleged that Bouanane was motivated largely by hatred following heavy military bombardments in the Syrian city of Raqqa carried out by the Western military alliance targeting Islamic State.

Bouanane, who is in his early 20s, pleaded guilty to the murder charges, but denied committing a terrorist act as prosecutors alleged.

A life sentence in Finland averages between 12 and 20 years, with most prisoners serving 14 to 16 years.

Prosecutor Hannu Koistinen said Bouanane wanted to spread fear among people and probably wanted to be shot by police so he would die as a martyr. He told investigators that his initial plan was to decapitate his victims.

“I feel an enormous joy, but also sadness,” Hassan Zubier, who was stabbed in the arm while trying to help a victim who died, told Finnish broadcaster YLE. “We have two dead and eight who are injured for life. He has been convicted of a terror crime and that is the most important.”

Bouanane was stopped by police who shot him in the thigh after the stabbing rampage in Turku’s main market square.

Defence lawyer Kaarle Gummerus said Bouanane, who arrived in Finland in 2016, became radicalised soon before the attack, so his crimes could not be described as a planned terror offence.

Investigators said they didn’t think the rejection of his asylum application was a motive for the attack.