Flyers forward Jori Lehtera will miss his scheduled appearance in a Finnish court Tuesday, where he is facing charges of buying cocaine, according to a Helsinki newspaper. Lehtera, 31, is not legally obligated to attend the hearing because the Finnish court system has not been able to serve him with papers, Aamulehti reported.
Lehtera’s lawyer, Ari Nieminen, told the newspaper that Lehtera is willing to “clear things up” in court but is unable to attend now because of the NHL season.
“I do not believe that the case will be handled without his presence,” he said.
Lehtera, who has denied the charges, is accused of buying eight grams of cocaine in June and July in nightclubs in Tampere, the country’s third-largest city. Lehtera, a native of Finland, has a vacation home in the area. Prosecutors are seeking a five-month prison sentence.
Lehtera was charged as part of an investigation into a large cocaine ring that is accused of moving 1.8 kilos of cocaine in Finland. He is one of 22 defendants in the case, which went to trial on Dec. 31.
Lehtera’s portion of the case was scheduled to be handled Tuesday but will now likely be heard at a later time, Aamulehti reported. District Court Judge Petteri Kosonen has said the charges against Lehtera could be split from the others and handled separately.
The Flyers declined to comment Monday.
Lehtera, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, has not played for the last nine games and is not in the roster for Monday evening’s match against the St. Louis Blues. Lehtera has played in only 24 games this season. He has one goal and two assists.
Staff writer Sam Carchidi contributed to this article.