The prosecution in a massive drug case is calling for a sentence of at least six years imprisonment for ice hockey player Jere Karalahti, who went on trial on Tuesday accused of aggravated drug crime, as well complicity in aggravated drug crime.
Karalahti denied the charges that were read out in a session of Espoo District Court, which was held at a prison in Vantaa for security reasons. Karalahti is one of 21 defendants believed to have connections with the Bandidos motorcycle gang.
Prosecutors say that Karalahti's role in the series of crimes involved financing purchases of large quantities illegal drugs; he allegedly supplied the main defendants with EUR 20,000 to buy about four kilos of amphetamine from Estonia.
The prosecution claims that Karalahti gave EUR 15,000 in cash to the two main perpetrators, who delivered the money to Estonia to pay for a quantity of amphetamine.
The information on the sums of money involved is partly based on electronic surveillance.
The prosecution says that Karalahti borrowed EUR 10,000 from a former teammate, Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers NHL team. Karalahti told Jokinen that he needed the money to disengage from a player contract with the Helsinki team HIFK. Jokinen himself is not suspected of any crime.
Karalahti is also suspected of having used the same excuse to persuade one of the other defendants to lend EUR 5,000 to one of the suspected main perpetrators.
Karalahti denies involvement in the financing or acquisition of drugs in any way.