A failed hijacking of a passenger bus in Finland on Highway 4, close to Uurainen, on December 5 last year yielded €480 in fines, no prison sentence and no probation for 31 year old immigrant Hayder Hussein Noaman Al-Tuwaijari, who was sentenced last week by the Central Finland District Court.
Prosecutor Janna-Maria Meriläinen had brought forward charges of hijacking as well as several smaller charges against Al-Tuwaijari. The prosecutor claimed Al-Tuwaijari had used force in an attempt to gain control of the vehicle from the driver while underway and steer it into oncoming traffic. The bus was traveling at a speed of at least 80 km/h when Al-Tuwaijari attempted his attack. The incident occurred at night and the road surface was wet.
Passengers restrained attacker
In addition to Al-Tuwaijari and the bus driver, 11 other passengers had been on the bus. The driver managed to hold against Al-Tuwaijari and other passengers restrained him until police could arrive. Al-Tuwaijari had violently resisted his arrest, kicking, biting and threatening other passengers as well as police.
Al-Tuwaijari pleaded innocence to the hijacking charges, claiming he had a panic attack from the use of cannabis and just wanted to get off the bus. He didn’t purposefully grab the bus driver or try to steer the bus into oncoming traffic. He claimed to have lost his balance due to the bus braking and by mistake grabbed the bus drivers arm to not fall.
Several of the other passengers gave testimony in court as plaintiffs, as well as the bus driver and two witnesses. The prosecutor presented evidence in the form of photos, a police investigation of the distance travelled during the incident, as well as police dashcam footage of the arrest.
Shouted ”Allahu Akbar!”
According to the testimonies of three other passengers – all Middle Eastern immigrant men – Al-Tuwaijari had leapt out of his seat and up to the bus driver while shouting islamic war cry ”Allahu Akbar”. After reaching the front of the bus, Al-Tuwaijari had strongly grabbed the bus drivers arm, but was overpowered by the three other immigrants, who then held him onto the floor, while he was violently resisting. One of the men testified that Al-Tuwaijari had appeared pale and sick before the incident and that it might have been some sort of panic attack.
A lab test showed that Al-Tuwaijari had traces of cannabis in his blood after the incident.
The bus driver told the court that as soon as he had heard the war cries he had immediately reduced the speed of the bus in a controlled manner. He said it was possible that Al-Tuwaijari had lost his balance due to the bus braking and that Al-Tuwaijari had only grabbed his arm and not the steering wheel.
Court convinced it was an accident
Testimonies convinced the district court that Al-Tuwaijari had reacted to a panic attack, fuelled by cannabis and involuntarily grabbed the bus drivers arm, without the intent to take control of the vehicle. The cries of ”Allahu Akbar” were given no importance to the matter, as the district court concluded that it is customary for muslims to scream this phrase spontaneously and as they please.
The district court sentenced Hayder Hussein Noaman Al-Tuwaijari, born 1988, to pay a fine of €480 for drug use, endangering of others, two cases of battery, as well as resisting arrest. He must also pay an additional fine of €80. A DUI charge and a charge on driving without a license were dismissed by the court.
Prosecutor Meriläinen has appealed the sentence and will seek to bring her charges against Al-Tuwaijari to a higher court.
Picture: Antti Leppänen