Two Finnish men are facing charges for making preparations for taking a hostage for ransom in a trial, which commences today, Monday, in the Harju District Court in the Estonian capital of Tallinn.
The Estonian police apprehended the men in Tallinn on September 6th. According to the Estonian Prosecutor’s Office, at the time the men were in a process of trying to recruit people to carry out the kidnapping.
The Finnish and the Estonian police worked in close cooperation to catch the men. It was considered essential that they be apprehended in Estonia.
No criminal charges could have been brought against the men in Finland, where simply planning a kidnapping is not a crime.
In Estonia it carries a maximum penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.
The trial will be closed to public of the plaintiff’s request. The protection of privacy and the best interest of a minor were used as arguments for the wish, the Harju District Court announced last week.
Reporters and photographers will not be allowed in the courtroom.
If the handling of the case is to continue behind closed doors, it will be very difficult to obtain information regarding the goings-on during the trial.
In a closed trial all the records of the proceedings can be ordered to be kept secret even after the handling of the case has already commenced.
In that case the court will forbid the litigants from commenting on the case.
When the court proceedings begin today, the prosecutor and the litigants can still make suggestions regarding the handling of the case. For example, they can suggest the partial opening of the case.
The defendants have extensive criminal records in Finland.
Based on the preliminary investigation, the men’s intention was to kidnap a Finnish businessman and hold him for a ransom.
The kidnapping was to have been carried out in Finland, but it was allegedly to have been carried out by people recruited from Estonia.
According to information obtained by Helsingin Sanomat, the original plans were to kidnap Thomas Wahlroos, 32, the son of Björn Wahlroos, who is the Chairman of the Board in Sampo Group, Nordea and UPM-Kymmene.
Later, the group decided to try for an easier target.
Before the trial one of the accused was being held in custody in Estonia. The other one had been set free to wait for the trial on the grounds that there was no longer a basis for keeping him in custody. The other defendant was not remanded.
Court records from the defendants’ remand hearing show that the man who was remanded in Estonia had presented the operation to a potential recruit in a hotel bar in Tallinn.
The idea was to hold the victim at a leased summer cottage, where he would have been beaten and videotaped. The video would then have been sent to the victim’s relatives together with the ransom demand.