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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 July 2018

Asylum-seeker gets life after Finland's first terror trial

Abderrahman Bouanane was convicted of two terror-related murders

Moroccan Abderrahman Bouanane was handed life sentence by district court for two murders and 8 murder attempts, with terrorist intent, when he committed the knife attack in Turku. Antti Aimo Koivisto/ AFP
Moroccan Abderrahman Bouanane was handed life sentence by district court for two murders and 8 murder attempts, with terrorist intent, when he committed the knife attack in Turku. Antti Aimo Koivisto/ AFP

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 attack in the Nordic country last year.

The southern Finland district court sentenced Abderrahman Bouanane, an alleged sympathiser of the Islamic State group, 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 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.

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"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.