Former world champion ski jumper Matti Nykanen charged with attempted manslaughter

Former world champion ski jumper Matti Nykanen charged with attempted manslaughter{mosimage}HELSINKI, Finland – Former world champion ski jumper Matti Nykanen was charged Wednesday with attempted manslaughter after stabbing a man in southern Finland in August, regional court officials said. The 59-year-old victim, reportedly Nykanen’s friend, was released from a hospital a few days after the stabbing.

The case will open in a district court in Tampere, north of Helsinki, on Oct. 27. If found guilty, Nykanen could be sentenced to as long as nine years in prison.

Nykanen and his wife, Mervi Tapola-Nykanen, were detained a few days after the Aug. 24 stabbing at a summer cottage in Nokia, near Tampere. Both were drunk at the time, police said. Nykanen has been jailed since his arrest, but his wife was released after questioning. Tapola-Nykanen is expected to appear during the trial, but it was unclear if she would testify against her husband because Finnish law says that spouses are not required to testify against each other.

In March, the former ski jumper was given a four-month suspended sentence for beating and attacking his wife with a knife during a trip to Salzburg, Austria. Nykanen, 41, won 19 medals at the Olympics and world championships from 1982-1990, the most ever by a ski jumper. He was voted Finland’s athlete of the year in 1985 and 1988.

Since retiring as an athlete, he took up a career as a singer. Popular among ski jumping fans, and known as the “Jumping Eagle,” Nykanen has played sporadically to sold-out houses at nightclubs and bars. Finnish media have extensively reported on his nightlife, including performances at strip clubs and drinking bouts that have often ended in brawls.
–Associated Press

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