Anneli Auer is seeking an additional US$2.95 million compensation from Finland’s government for being wrongly convicted and imprisoned for her husband’s murder.* The US$613,000 she was paid in September 2016 was record compensation in Finland for an exonerated person. She was imprisoned for 611 days.
Anneli Auer’s case is one of the most publicized legal cases in Finland’s history. The sensational reporting suggests that in twice finding her guilty the district court rubber-stamped her conviction by the media frenzy branding her as a wanton murderess.
Jukka S. Lahti, 51, was killed in his home in Ulvila, Finland on the evening of December 1, 2006. Ulvila is about 150 miles northwest of Helsinki, Finland’s capital.
Jukka, his wife Anneli, 41, and their four children, aged 9, 7, 4 and 2, were in bed when an intruder broke into their house by breaking a glass window on their patio door.
The intruder attacked Jukka and Anneli in their bedroom.
Anneli was stabbed through her breast and a lung was punctured while trying to fight off the masked intruder who was wearing a black hoodie.
Anneli fled to the kitchen where she and her eldest (9-year-old) daughter, who got up when she heard the commotion, called emergency services while Jukka was still fighting with the intruder. Emergency services can hear Jukka’s cries for help in the background, along with other sounds of an altercation.
The eldest daughter saw the back of the killer wearing a hoodie as he left the house. The three youngest children were in bed and saw nothing.
The police arrived two minutes after the emergency services call was made.
Jukka was dead when police arrived. He had stab wounds, and he had been beaten on the head with a heavy object. The murder weapons were not found by the police.
Jukka was a social psychologist who worked for a company that produces copper and other metals. His job was to support workers who were facing being terminated. He had received death threats in the months preceding his murder, and his murder was initially investigated as a revenge killing by a disgruntled worker.
Police collected fingerprints and DNA from the crime scene, but the assailant wasn’t identified. (It was discovered in June 2013 that the police had contaminated the DNA evidence, so it was useless to identify the perpetrator.)
Almost three years later Anneli was arrested in September 2009 and charged with her husband’s murder.
During her trial the prosecution’s key evidence was Anneli’s emergency services call, which it interpreted as indicating there was no outside assailant in the house at that time, as she had told the police later. The prosecution also argued that Anneli staged the crime scene.
On June 22, 2010 a three-judge panel in the District Court of Satakunta voted 2 to 1 to convict her. She was sentenced to life in prison on November 12, 2010.
The dissenting judge said he didn’t think the emergency call could prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was no outside killer in the house, and he questioned whether Anneli could have had enough time to stage the crime scene before police arrived.
Anneli appealed. While her appeal was pending she was released on bond on May 25, 2011. She had spent 611 days in custody.
On July 11, 2011 the Vaasa Court of Appeal unanimously reversed her conviction and ordered her acquittal on the basis the prosecution introduced insufficient evidence to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecution appealed.
In October 2012 Finland’s Supreme Court reversed the appeals court’s acquittal, but it did remand her case back to the district court for a new trial.
After her retrial, on December 13, 2013 Anneli was again convicted by a 2 to 1 vote. She was again sentenced to life in prison. The district court also ordered her to pay her children damages of US$22,500 (€20,000) each plus interest.
On February 19, 2015 the Vaasa Court of Appeals reversed her conviction by a 2 to 1 vote and ordered her acquittal. The majority ruled there was not only a lack of evidence by the prosecution she was guilty, but there was considerable evidence casting doubt on her guilt.
The prosecution appealed.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on December 18, 2015, letting stand her acquittal by the appeals court.
Anneli subsequently filed a compensation claim with the Finnish government for her 1 year and 8 months of wrongful imprisonment.
In September 2016 Finland’s Treasury department awarded her compensation of US$613,000: $549,000 (€488,000) for suffering, and US$64,000 (€57,000) for loss of income.** It was the largest wrongful imprisonment award in Finland’s history. Although normally US$135 (€120) per day is paid as compensation for person’s suffering during their wrongful imprisonment, the Treasury decided to award her almost seven times as much — US$900 (€800) per day — because of the massive publicly in Finland about the case.
Auer has accused Finnish authorities of publicly declaring her guilty after her acquittal. One instance she has cited is a police press release saying she confessed to her husband’s (still-unexplained) murder, when she did not. In response to official statements she is guilty, the media has treated her as guilty in spite of her acquittal.
On August 23, 2017 Anneli filed a claim in the District Court of South-West Finland in Turku for additional compensation of US$2,951,000: US$2,542,000 (€2,132,000) for her suffering, and US$409,000 (€343,000) in additional loss of income compensation.*
If Anneli prevails in her new claim, she will be paid total compensation of US$3,564,000 (€3,020,00).
“Murhalesken Muistelmat” is Anneli’s memoir about her life and ordeal that was published in September 2016. It is only available in Finnish. The book is a bestseller in Finland, and has sold more copies than any other book published by Into Publishing, Finland’s largest book publisher. (Bing.com and other translators online translate the title to: “The Murder of the Widow’s Memoirs”.)
“Emergency Call – A Murder Mystery” is a 2014 documentary about Anneli Auer’s case that can viewed at no charge on Youtube.com. The documentary is in Finnish, with English subtitles. Click here to watch “Emergency Call – A Murder Mystery.” The documentary has been viewed more than 75,000 times in the eight months since being uploaded to Youtube.com in January 2017.
In 2006 Anneli’s company, Auer Media, founded the children/parenting website, GamesCraftsColoring.com. There are English, Finnish, and Swedish versions of the website that was updated in May 2017 to be more mobile device friendly.
Anneli Auer’s personal blog page (in Finnish) is www.anneliauerkirjoittaa.blogspot.com. Its homepage states: “Anneli Auer says in her own blog about her thoughts and analyzes what went wrong with the police and other authorities.”***
Www.anneliauer.com is a website with information about her case that was set-up by a supporter. The website is primarily in Finnish, but some pages are in English.
* Anelli Auer is seeking €2.5 million (Euros). On August 26 the Euro had an exchange rate of 1.192397 per US$1. www.xe.com/currencyconverter.
** Anelli Auer was awarded €545,000 in September 2016. On Sept. 15, 2016 the exchange rate was 1.1248 Euro per US$1. http://www.xe.com/currencytables/?from=EUR&date=2016-09-15
*** Some of the information in this report was translated from Finnish sources to English by online translators that include Google,com’s translator and Bing.com’s translator.
**** In an unrelated case, in 2012 Anneli and a former male companion were convicted of child sex and abuse crimes allegedly committed between 2007 and 2009. She maintained her innocence of the charges, but her convictions (and those of her codefendant) were affirmed on appeal. She served about half of her 7-1/2 year sentence before being released in 2015.