The Finnish Supreme Court has overturned the hitherto most severe sentence imposed on animal rights activism.
The case concerns a fire at a fur retail business in Turku in the summer of 2008. About 100 people were asleep in the stories above the ground-level fur shop.
The young Turku man was given a three-year sentence at the Appeals Court level. However, the Supreme Court threw out the conviction on Thursday because it felt that a confession made by the young man to a doctor who was treating him was not sufficient evidence.
The man had been in treatment on a mental health complaint, and he said during treatment that he had set the fire.
Medical personnel reported the matter to police, which the Supreme Court says violated the principle of doctor-patient privilege, even though However, the crime was serious enough for the doctors to be allowed to testify on what they had heard.
The defendant denied the act during the police investigation and in court.
He said in court that he made up the story of setting the fire, hoping that he would get help more easily for his illness. The Supreme Court noted that the events surrounding the fire were common knowledge, and therefore ruled that the evidence against him was insufficient.
After the fire police found implements that they say may have been used in the arson in a rubbish bin near the scene of the crime as well as a pair of trousers with traces of the man’s DNA mixed with that of someone else.
The Supreme Court ruled that the fact that clothing once used by the man were found in the same waste receptacle as possible other implements used in the crime is not sufficient evidence of guilt.