Police in Finland has identified the 18-year old Moroccan asylum seeker Abderrahman Mechkah as the main suspect in t the stabbing rampage in the city of Turku last Friday. He appeared before the District Court of Varsinais-Suomi on Tuesday, August 22
He appeared before the District Court of Varsinais-Suomi on Tuesday, August 22, where he denied both murder charges and terrorist intent in the attack, according to the Helsingin Sanomat daily. According to the Finnish daily, the investigation has yet to establish that the attack in Finland is related to the attack in Barcelona.
The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (KPR) suggests the suspect’s age and identity must be confirmed, as he may have provided a false identity upon arrival in Finland.
The suspect’s violent German past
The 18-year old has no prior criminal record in Finland, but German media report he had a violent record in Germany.
According to the Finnish public broadcaster (ype) Mechkah moved to Turku, Finland, in the first half of 2016 and submitted an asylum application. That was declined, as it often happens with the overwhelming majority of Moroccan applicants.
The German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle claims that before his arrival in Finland Mechkah had lived in Germany from 2015 to 2016. The German WDR broadcaster suggests the subject was once involved in an assault at a refugee home in Neuss in January 2016 and another in the town of Kerpenfor, resulting in grievous bodily harm.
He then left for Finland. However, is still unknown whether the man identified as Abdelrahman Mechkah by German media is indeed the same person.
In the beginning of 2017, first the Finnish police and then the secret services (Supo) were warned about his radicalization of the man presenting himself as Mechkah.
On Tuesday, Mechkah testified via video link from Turku University Hospital with the help of an interpreter, the Finnish Public Broadcaster (ype) reports. The suspect is hospitalized as he was shot in the hip at the scene of the crime.
Mechkah admitted the stabbings but his lawyer denies they constituted a terrorist act.
According to a police press release on Monday, the suspect was not among the 350 individuals currently under surveillance due to their links with radical networks and known terrorists. The number of individuals under surveillance for links to known terrorists in Finland has increased by 80% over the last two years.
The court also saw four more alleged associates, all of whom are asylum seekers from Morocco. Only one of them has a criminal record for “coercion to sexual acts.”
All four suspects face charges of murder and attempted murder with terrorist intent. A fifth man was released. It is unclear what they alleged involvement in the incident might have been.
The attack last Friday in Turqu left two people dead and eight injured, in what authorities consider the first case of religious extremism in Finland, the New York Times reported.
The two casualties were two Finnish women. Among the injured there are an Italian, a Swede, and a British citizen.