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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Palace Hotel robbery - To avoid arrest - Convicted rapist
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 22, 1997
Date of arrest: 4 days after
Date of birth: 1964
Victims profile: Eero Holsti and Antero Palo (police officers)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on May 8, 1998

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Steen Viktor Christensen (born 1964) is a Danish criminal, who was sentenced in Denmark in 1992 to twelve years in prison for numerous bank robberies, hostage taking, and rape.

In autumn 1997 Christensen was allowed to go on an unguarded holiday, during which he escaped to Finland.

On 22 October 1997 Christensen robbed the Hotel Palace in Helsinki, and during his escape from the hotel, he shot two police officers, Eero Holsti and Antero Palo, on Tehtaankatu. The incident caused a spectacular chase in Finland.

Christensen was caught in Hämeenlinna, when he was leaving the Hotel Vaakuna. He had been living in the hotel under the name Kim Anderssen. Christensen said the motive for his robbery had been lack of money.

Christensen was sentenced to life imprisonment, and is serving it at the Herstedvester prison in Denmark. He was also sentenced to pay the families of the police officers he killed, the state treasury, and the watchman at the Hotel Palace a total of almost 275 000 Finnish mark (about 46 300 euro) and to pay a life support of 3873 Finnish mark (about 651.40 euro) per month to one underaged child.

The sum consists mainly of family pensions and compensation for mental suffering. As well as the costs for the biggest criminal chase ever in Finland, the state had to pay the trial costs of over 62 500 Finnish mark (about 10 500 euro).

The incident caused a great deal of conversation in Denmark about what sort of prisoners can be allowed to go on holiday from the country's incarceration facilities and under what grounds.

In prison, Christensen married a Finnish woman in 2002 who gave birth to their child.

The Finnish rap musician Steen1 originally chose Steen Christensen as his artist name, but changed it to Steen1 after getting his first record deal, because of too much controversy.


The offender’s history

Steen Victor Christensen is a Danish career criminal who now serves a life-sentence forkilling two Finnish policemen in conjunction with a hotel robbery. His case is one of the best-known criminal cases in Finnish history.

Christensen’s criminal career has been long and violent. It started in 1986 when he was seriously indebted due to a lavish lifestyle and an obsession for gambling. Christensen took on a career as a bank robber, and during a series of ten robberies he was able to acquire almost 700 000 euros worth of cash. Although he never killed anyone before, his robberies have often been violent.

In 1992 Christensen received a 12-year prison sentence for several robberies, hostage-taking and rape. In prison, he engaged in drug-dealing and received a 3-year extension to his sentence.

In September 1997, despite the objection ofthe Danish police, Christensen was granted a short leave from prison. He never reportedback and instead fled to Finland. (TS 26.10.1997)

The double homicide

On October 22nd, 1997, at around two o’clock in the morning, Christensen ringed the doorbell of an upscale downtown hotel in Helsinki. Well-dressed and acting like a regular customer, Christensen did not appear the least bit suspicious to the concierge, who opened the door and let the robber in.

Christensen spoke fluent English and pretended to check into a room he had reserved earlier by telephone. When Christensen felt the moment was right, the situation was quickly transformed into armed robbery. Facing a handgun, the concierge did not resist, and no excessive violence was used.

The robber tied the concierge’s hands and legs and left him lying on the floor of the hotel reception. Christensen got his hands on some 1000 euros worth of cash and started walking towards his rented apartment, which was located only about one kilometer away from the hotel.(TS 23.10.1997, TS 27.10.1997)

As this was a Tuesday night in a peaceful neighborhood of Helsinki, escaping the scenes hould not have taken more than 15 minutes. But apparently the concierge was quick lyable to free himself and call the police.

At the time the police was alerted, Christensen was already within a couple of blocks from his apartment. He did not proceed directly, however, because he saw a police car on his route ahead of him and didn’t want to risk running into it. Unfortunately, his minor detour led to an even quicker encounter with another patrolling car. This happened so soon after the robbery that the police did not have but very preliminary information about the robber. Among other details, the patrol was not aware that the robber was armed. (TS 23.10.1997, TS 27.10.1997)

The two policemen stopped Christensen and asked him to identify himself. One of the officers stayed with Christensen on the street while the other returned to the patrol car and called on the radio for more information.

The radio call took longer and longer, and Christensen became nervous. It started to become clear, that his chances of getting away with the robbery were slim. He was within minutes from his apartment, and this random police patrol was apparently the only thing that prevented him to succeed with the robbery.

Acting on this conjecture, Christensen took out his handgun. He told the officer closer to him to lie down on the ground and the officer in the car to step out on the street. After forcing both policemen on the ground face down, Christensen brutally executed both by shooting them in the neck and in the back. (TS 23.10.1997, TS 27.10.1997, TS8.5.1998)

A manhunt of unprecedented proportion began. All available police resources were engaged in finding Christensen. Major ports were under close supervision and the general public was alerted through the media. Approximately 88 hours after the killings Christensen was found and arrested in another town in Finland. Once found, Christensen did not resist, and the arrest proceeding calmly. (TS 26.10.1997, TS 27.10.1997)

In the investigations and trial that followed, Christensen continuously showed deepremorse and cooperated in every way he could. He waived his right to professional legal representation and confessed the entire course of events. As there was also amplematerial evidence against Christensen, he eventually received a life-sentence for both the two murders and the robbery. (TS 8.5.1998)

Aleksi Grym - Support Crime and the Rationality of Violence - January 2005



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