Baltic Sea

More than 30 years after a gruesome murder on board a German ferry, a suspect is on trial


It has been almost 34 years since two German backpackers were attacked on board the MS Viking Sally – one of the two did not survive the crime.

The trial of the alleged murder and attempted murder perpetrator, a Dane who is now 51 years old, begins this Monday. He denies the charges.

The trial takes place in the District Court of the Finnish city of Turku, around 150 kilometers west of Helsinki. The city was the ultimate destination of the MS Viking Sally, which was en route from Stockholm in 1987 when the incident occurred.

The two Germans had been on a Scandinavian tour at the time and had spent the night of the crossing on the outer deck of the ferry.

Fellow travelers had discovered the couple that night and when they noticed a large pool of blood, alerted the nurse on board.

The two were flown to the Turku clinic in a rescue helicopter, but help came too late for the then 20-year-old German. His 22-year-old girlfriend survived seriously injured.

The police have been investigating the background of the crime for a long time, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the Finnish police reopened the investigation.

The brutality and cruelty of the murder are particularly frightening, said the prosecutor, pointing out that the attacker must have struck the heads of the two victims several times.

This Monday the indictment will be read and the evidence will be examined. Final arguments are expected by the end of the week. It is not yet clear when the judgment will be decided.

The Scandinavian ferry on which the murder occurred was sold to the Swedish-Estonian company EstLine in 1993 and named Estonia.

A year later she sank in the Baltic Sea in a shipwreck that is still considered the worst in post-war Europe.

The ferry sank within 30 minutes and help came too late for 852 people on board.