By Essi Lehto
HELSINKI (Reuters) - A 52-year-old Danish man went on trial in a Finnish court on Monday charged with the 1987 murder and attempted murder of two German backpackers, who were beaten with a hammer while sleeping on the open-air deck of a passenger ferry.
Klaus Schelkle, 20, and Bettina Taxis, 22, were travelling from the Swedish capital Stockholm to Turku, in Finland, when prosecutors said the attack took place in Finnish waters.
The students were airlifted to hospital where Schelkle was pronounced dead. Taxis survived but has no memory of the attack.
The prosecutor is seeking life imprisonment for the Danish man, who court documents say was 18 years old at the time and travelling to a Mormon scout camp in Finland. The Danish man has denied the allegations.
The ship where the attack took place - the Viking Sally - was later sold to an Estonian shipping company and operated under the name Estonia. It sank in 1994 in a storm on the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people. The trial is expected to last a week.
(Reporting by Essi Lehto; Editing by Michael Kahn and Alex Richardson)