By JARI TANNER
HELSINKI (AP) — A rare terror trial opened Monday in Finland in the case of a Moroccan asylum-seeker and alleged Islamic State sympathizer charged with fatally stabbing two people and wounding eight others.
Abderrahman Bouanane was led handcuffed into a makeshift courtroom set up inside a prison in Turku, the southwestern Finnish city where the Aug. 18, 2017 attack took place. Some of the victims were present in court.
The stabbing rampage at Turku’s main market square lasted some three minutes and left two women dead and six women and two men wounded, some of them seriously.
State Prosecutor Hannu Koistinen has charged Bouanane with two counts of terror-related murder and eight counts of attempted murder with a terror-related motive, the first terror-related charges issued in Finland.
Prosecutors allege that Bouanane, who was born in 1994, wanted to spread fear among citizens and likely wished to be shot by police and die as a martyr.
“We find that Bouanane’s intention was to carry out a terror attack in Finland in the name and on the behalf the Islamic State as a part of the group’s worldwide attacks,” Koistinen told Finnish national broadcaster YLE Monday.
Bouanane has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and injuring the people he wounded, but denies he intended to commit a terrorist act. He said Monday in court, where he wore a track suit and smiled often, that his initial plan was to kill two people by decapitating them.
Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation has said that Bouanane identified strongly with the Islamic State group and the August attack was motivated largely by heavy bombardments in Syria carried out by a Western-led coalition last year.
Bouanane arrived in Finland in 2016 and became radicalized about three months before the attack, according to police. His asylum application was rejected, but police said they don’t think that was not a motive for the attack.
Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Bouanane. The trial is expected to end in mid-May.