Triple murderer escapes Finnish prison

A triple murderer who was jailed for life in 1989 for killing three people in a graveyard in northern Sweden has escaped from prison in Finland, Finnish news agency FNB has reported.

Juha Valjakkala disappeared from the prison in Hamina on Monday night. Finnish police are now trying to track the killer down. A national alert has also gone out to all police forces and customs posts in Sweden, the National Criminal Investigation Department said.

Valjakkala, who has changed his name to Nikita Joakim Fouganthine, shot and killed a man and his 15-year-old son and stabbed the man’s wife to death in a graveyard in Åmsele, near Skellefteå, northern Sweden, in 1988.

The Finn and his girlfriend were arrested a week later in Denmark. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and deportation. The girlfriend was sentenced to two years jail for serious assault.

A decision in October by the Finnish Supreme Court to allow Valjakkala to be pardoned caused dismay in Sweden. President Tarja Halonen has the final say over whether to pardon the killer. She has not yet made a decision on the case, but Finnish presidents have previously refused all pardon applications from Valjakkala.

Sweden’s justice minister, Beatrice Ask, declared at the time that she was upset by the Finnish court’s decision. She said the decision was particularly puzzling because Valjakkala had escaped on several occasions and committed further crimes and tried to escape prison.

In May 2002 he was arrested in Långtäsk, near Piteå, northern Sweden, after failing to return from weekend release. A year later he escaped from Sukeva prison in Sonkjärvi together with another prisoner. The pair climbed over the fence, but prison staff managed to catch him before he had left the prison area.