Anneli Auer was cleared of all accusations regarding the unsolved murder of her husband in Ulvila in 2006 shortly after 8am on Friday.
The Supreme Court of Finland announced that it has turned down applications for leave to appeal from both the prosecution and plaintiffs against a decision by the Vaasa Court of Appeal to acquit Auer of the offence. The acquittal will therefore enter into force and set the final seal on the protracted murder trial.
Auer was the primary suspect in the murder of her husband for over six years.
“The mood is naturally jubilant and satisfied. I do have to remind in true Finnish fashion that [the process] has robbed almost ten years of Anneli Auer's life and effectively destroyed it. Everything is relative, but above all we feel relieved and satisfied,” said Juha Manner, who has represented Auer throughout the criminal process.
“I sent her an e-mail before she had opened her computer. She first heard about [the decision] from me, and she was naturally satisfied.”
A nine-year-old murder case
- Anneli Auer's spouse, Jukka S. Lahti, was stabbed to death in Ulvila on 1 December 2006. Auer was arrested on suspicion of the homicide in 2009.
- The Supreme Court consigned the case back to the District Court of Satakunta in 2012.
- The Vaasa Court of Appeal acquitted Auer in February 2015. The prosecutors lodged an application for leave to appeal, but their application was turned down by the Supreme Court on Friday, 18 December 2015.
The prosecutors were eager to bring the case before the Supreme Court already for the second time on grounds of the new research data they had gathered on, for example, the emergency call recording. The Supreme Court, however, deemed the grounds for appeal insufficient.
The prosecutors argued that Auer had sought to frame a third party for the homicide by playing a recording on the background while making a call to the emergency call centre.
The case will remain the subject of considerable legal scrutiny as the judicial system will next mull over a claim for unlawful detention compensation to be filed by the defence. Auer is entitled to seek substantial compensatory damages for the time she was held in detention.
“I've said earlier that it'll be the largest compensation claim ever filed, as well as the largest compensation ever granted, in Finland,” Manner said.
One of the contributing factors is the insistence of the prosecutors to portray the defendant as the perpetrator throughout the painstaking criminal process. “We won't speculate on the amount just yet,” added Manner.
He did confirm, however, that the compensatory damages will be hundreds of euros for each of the over 600 days his client was held in detention. This indicates that the damages could be as high as several hundreds of thousands of euros.
Auer has also filed an appeal against the sentence imposed on her in a sex crime case by the Turku Court of Appeal.
Manner also said he expects the police to re-open the murder investigation and to try to identify the perpetrator now that Auer has been cleared of all charges. The evidence produced over the course of the criminal process offers a number of alternatives, according to him.
Jukka Harju – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT