Trial begins for ‘dark web massacre plot’ suspect

Prosecutors say the 28-year old man planned to rob a gun shop, then carry out a mass casualty killing spree. The second time he's been accused of a similar plot.

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File picture, exterior of Helsinki District Court / Credit: News Now Finland

A 28-year old man has gone on trial in Helsinki today, charged with plotting a mass casualty attack.

Prosecutors say Josef Hannu tried to recruit accomplices last December on the ‘dark web’, an unregulated part of the internet where many illegal activities take place, to join him in an attack he described as a ‘massacre’ in online postings.

One of the responses to Hannu’s messages came from the National Bureau of Investigations KRP posing as a would-be accomplice.

According to the prosecution, Hannu first planned to rob a gun store to steal weapons, before intending to carry out a larger attack. He twice visited a gun shop in Helsinki’s Topeliuksenkatu, under police surveillance.

He was arrested on 21st December outside an Omena Hotel in the capital, although police are unsure if that was the ultimate target of his intended attack.

The accused man denies the charges against him, and his lawyer says he suffered from mental health issues, and was under the influence of prescription drugs when he made the initial postings on the dark web.

Second murder plot charges for accused 

This is not Hannu’s first legal fight connected with a mass murder plot.

He previously served a three year prison sentence after being found guilty of a plan to murder 50 people at random, at Helsinki University.

In 2014 Hannu and a female accomplice were sentenced to jail for their plan to use guns and poison gas to attack the university.

When they were arrested, police discovered hundreds of rounds of ammunition, gas masks, knives and a crossbow among their arsenal. The court heard how they planned to set off arsine gas bombs in university buildings, then lock the doors to hamper the efforts of first responders.

Hannu’s female accomplice in that case was seen giving a Nazi salute in court. She was let out of jail early on health grounds.