Former mayoral candidate in court

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A man who had seemed to be the leading candidate to become mayor of Stavanger in last autumn’s election instead wound up defending himself in a city court on Tuesday against a long list of charges involving sexual misconduct.

Trond Birkedal, long a top politician for the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), admitted to many of the charges, including that he secretly filmed naked men in his bathroom. He denies, however, charges of sexual assault and an alleged assault on a boy younger than the age of sexual consent in Norway, 16.

Birkedal was one of Progress Party leader Siv Jensen’s closest advisers, but his career came to an abrupt end when some of his alleged victims began filing charges last spring. All told there are 10 plaintiffs in the case against him and they started testifying in court on Tuesday. One young man said in court that Birkedal had assaulted him in a hotel room, and that Birkedal often followed “drunken boys” home from political gatherings.

Geir Mo, former secretary general of the party, has also been called to testify. It’s been alleged that both he and Jensen were aware that Birkedal was accused of sexual contact with a 15-year-old former member of the party’s youth organization, but didn’t pursue the issue. The Birkedal case was among scandals that shook the Progress Party  last year and led to its sharp drop in public opinion polls.

Views and News staff