Tuesday 10/26/21

Finnish court acquits suspect in 34-year-old Baltic ferry murder case

The Danish suspect allegedly admitted his guilt during police questioning, but as he was not informed of his rights and no lawyer was present, the court did not recognize the statement as evidence.

The question of who was behind a brutal attack on a German couple on a ferry in the Baltic Sea 34 years ago is likely to remain open, after a Finnish court acquitted a Danish suspect on Wednesday.

The man had been charged with killing a man and severely injuring his girlfriend.

The Turku-based court found there was not sufficient evidence of the suspect's guilt, Finnish broadcaster Yle reported on Wednesday. He had repeatedly protested his innocence during the proceedings.

The couple from the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg embarked on the Baltic Sea ferry Viking Sally from Stockholm (Sweden) to Turku (Finland) in July 1987.

Both students at the time, they were sleeping on deck when they were attacked during the night. The man, Klaus Schelkle, then 20 years old, died, while the then-22-year-old Bettina Taxis survived despite severe injuries.

Investigation reopened in 2016

Police in vain sought clues that might lead them to the perpetrator. The investigation was only reopened in 2016 when investigators found new leads.

The Danish suspect is said to have indicated he was guilty of the attack during questioning by the police that year. However, since he had not been informed of his rights during the interrogation and no lawyer was present, the court did not recognize the statement as evidence.

The prosecutor in the case had demanded life imprisonment for the defendant.