Dane acquitted of murder on Viking Sally in 1987

A German student was killed on a July night on the deck of a ferry sailing from Sweden to Finland, and his girlfriend was wounded. The investigation was resumed almost three decades after the crime.

According to media reports, the Varsinais-Suomi county court acquitted a Danish citizen charged with murder and attempted murder in July 1987 on the Viking Sally ferry. The prosecutor demanded a life sentence for him. The man denied his guilt.

The victims of the crime, which occurred almost 35 years ago, were a couple of German tourists who were on their way from Stockholm to Turku and planned to take the train to Lapland. Klaus Sjölkle, 20, was killed and his 22-year-old girlfriend Bettina Taxis was wounded.

Suspicion fell on the 18-year-old Dane, who discovered the bodies of the victims. He was on his way to Finland for the Mormon Scout convention. The prosecution claims that he killed a German student with a sharp ax, which is used to clean off the plaque from the ship's hull, and tried to kill the girl with it. The murder weapon was never found at the crime scene.

The reason for the resumption of the case was the SMS that the Dane sent to his ex-wife. In them, he indirectly admits to having committed the murder and claims that those who interrogated him will not be able to do anything to him. He later said that he sent these messages in order to intimidate the ex-spouse.

In court, the man claimed that he went to the upper deck on the night of the murder to smoke. There he heard a sound and went to check what it was. On the helipad, he met three Swedish scouts and saw two bloody bodies. The defense side stated that if the Dane were a murderer, then there would be traces of blood on his clothes.

In 2016, the Finnish police conducted a series of interrogations of the accused in English in Denmark. After one of the interrogations, the Dane directly confessed to the Finnish police officer of the murder on the Viking Sally ferry. He said that he killed one victim and tried to kill the second with an ax, which he then threw into the sea. As a motive, he named the desire to rob German tourists. This confession, however, could not be used as evidence in court, since it was not obtained legally: the defendant's legal assistant was not present during the interrogations.

The Dane spent most of his adult life in prison for other crimes. However, none of them was a serious violent crime.

The trial in Finland began about a month ago and was conducted in Swedish, which the accused understands. The court found it unproven that the Dane was the only person who could commit these crimes. The Finnish state, according to the verdict, will be obliged to reimburse the man 3000 euros as compensation for the delay in the trial.