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Ex-soldier who murdered Scots tour guide launches appeal 

Karel Frybl was found guilty of murdering Rebecca Johnson, 26, in Lapland in 2016.

Rebecca Johnson died in December 2016
Rebecca Johnson died in December 2016

Reporting by David Mac Dougall.

A former soldier jailed for killing Scots tour guide Rebecca Johnson is launching an appeal on Tuesday against his conviction.

Karel Frybl was found guilty of murder earlier this year, after a frenzied attack on 26-year-old Ms Johnson, from Burntisland, Fife, in a remote part of Finnish Lapland in December 2016.

The couple were working as tour guides at a husky ranch, giving sled rides to tourists.

On the morning of her death, Ms Johnson confided to a colleague that she was in an abusive relationship with Czech national Frybl, who used an assumed name the whole time they were together, both in Scotland and in Finland.

After an argument, Frybl stabbed Ms Johnson more than 30 times in the head, back, chest, abdomen and thigh during an attack that he claims he doesn't remember at all.

At trial, a panel of judges heard how ten of the knife wounds were fatal blows, and they described Frybl's blitz attack as "brutal and cruel".

The only other employee working at the remote outpost, where the temperature was -30°C on the day of the murder, described walking in to find a fatally wounded Johnson slumped in a pool of blood, with Frybl above her holding a knife.

She pleaded for an ambulance, but died before help arrived.

Frybl was sentenced to life in prison in February.

Finland's appeals court process

The appeals court in the northern city of Rovaniemi will spend two days reviewing documents, crime scene photos, and a psychiatric review of Frybl's state of mind.

They'll also hear from witnesses who already testified at the first trial.

"If the appeal court is considering the evidence, they have to listen to the witnesses personally, they cannot just read the papers, they can't just listen to the tapes or read transcripts," says Johannes Ahola, a Rovaniemi lawyer not connected with the case.

"It's somehow heavy, but that's how the process is now. This means probably that all the people who were heard in the district court in the murder case will be heard in the appeal court again."

Frybl's lawer Katri Mäkinen confirmed that her team doesn't plan to introduce any new evidence during the appeal.

A verdict is expected in November.

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