Moroccan Asylum Seeker Gets Life Sentence in Finland’s First Terror Trial

Defendant Moroccan Abderrahman Bouanane waits for the start of his trial in prison in Turku, Finland on April 9, 2018. Bouanane is accused of two murders and 8 murder attempts, with terrorist intent, when he committed the knife attack in Turku on August 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Lehtikuva …
ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/AFP/Getty

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – A Moroccan asylum-seeker who was the subject of Finland’s first terrorism trial was convicted Friday of two terror-related murders and eight attempted murders from a stabbing attack in the Nordic country last year.

The southern Finland district court sentenced Abderrahman Bouanane, an alleged sympathizer of the Islamic State group, to life in prison after finding him guilty of the Aug. 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 the Islamic State group.

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 12 to 20 years, with most prisoners serving 14 to 16 years.

Prosecutor Hannu Koistinen said Bouanane wanted to spread fear among citizens and likely wished to be shot by police and 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.

Defense lawyer Kaarle Gummerus said Bouanane, who arrived in Finland in 2016, became radicalized shortly before the attack, so his crimes could not be described as a planned terror offense.

Investigators said the fact that his asylum application was rejected likely wasn’t a motive for the attack.

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