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Finnish pair on trial in university attack plot

May 26, 2014

HELSINKI (AP) — A man and woman arrested for allegedly plotting an attack at Finland’s biggest university were planning to kill dozens of people at random, prosecutors said Monday at the start of their trial.

Authorities have released few details about the pair or their alleged motive since they were arrested in March.

Footage from Finnish broadcaster YLE showed the woman raising her right arm in an apparent Nazi salute when the court hearing started Monday.

Prosecutors told the court that the defendants, who are in their 20s but whose names were not released, were plotting to kill about 50 people in an attack at the University of Helsinki. They were also charged with weapons possession.

Both have pleaded innocent. They admitted in court Monday that they were discussing a potential attack but denied committing a crime, YLE reported.

The suspects met online and discussed the massacre using encrypted emails, YLE said on its website, citing prosecutors. They allegedly planned to carry out the attack in January, but postponed it in order to prepare more carefully.

The male defendant told the court he had been bullied at school and started thinking about an attack after two school shootings in 2007 and 2008 in Finland that killed a total of 20 people, YLE said. He had images of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings on his computer, the broadcaster said.

Jukka Kola, the university’s rector, said in a statement Monday that the plot was discovered when someone tipped police off about the pair’s plans. Neither defendant was enrolled at the university, he said.

If found guilty they would face a maximum four-year prison sentence.

Update hourly