Parties and witness
The prosecutor brings a charge against the suspect and makes a demand for his or her punishment. For more information on the duties of the prosecutors, please see the website of the Finnish Prosecution Service.
The defendant, or the accused, is the person against whom the prosecutor brings a charge. The district court will state in the summons whether the defendant must arrive at the trial in person or whether the defendant may appoint a legal counsel to be present in his or her stead. The defendant is, however, always entitled to be present in the main hearing in person, if he or she so wishes.
The injured party is the victim of the alleged offence or a person suffering damage because of the offence. The injured party may claim compensation from the offender. In most cases, the prosecutor presents the claims for compensation on behalf of the injured party and therefore it is not always necessary for him or her to be present in person. The injured party is summoned to the main hearing, if this is considered necessary. The prosecutor often wishes that the injured party be heard in person for the purposes of giving evidence, especially when the case concerns violent crime. In that case, the injured party will be paid the same compensation for appearing at court as a witness. In other events, the injured party may arrive on a voluntary basis. When the injured party is being heard in court, he or she is under the obligation to tell the truth.
A witness is a person whose observations or expertise is used for determining the course of events. The duty of the witness is to recount what he or she certainly remembers of the events and his or her own observations. The witness does not represent either party and therefore should not take the interests of either party into account when giving a testimony. A witness may refuse to testify, if the defendant is his or her close relative. However, the witness must always obey the summons to appear in court and inform the court of his or her refusal to testify in the main hearing. The witness will be paid an allowance and compensated for the travel costs and loss of income arising from the appearance in court.