Bus murder report critical of handling

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A report investigating police handling of a triple murder on a bus near Årdal last November has found several critical flaws in the emergency response. The review found that while getting their faster wouldn’t have saved lives, the operations centre was understaffed, police should have had better access to weapons, and the responsibility lies with the chief of police.

A 31-year-old man from South Sudan is in custody over the stabbing murders of a Valdresekspressen bus driver and a Swedish man, both in their 50s, and a 19-year-old woman on November 4 last year. Firefighters reached the scene before police and arrested the alleged murderer. His application for asylum had been rejected some months earlier, and the man was due to be deported from the asylum centre at Årdal.

Norway’s justice department (Justisdepartementet) demanded the Sogn og Fjordane police review its handling of the case, after criticisms of the slow response time. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported only one person was manning the Sogn og Fjordane operations centre during the first half hour of the Årdal case, despite rules following the July 22, 2011 terror attacks that operations centres must always have at least two people on duty. The first 17 minutes of the response time were deemed critical. At the time, the other operations centre officer was in the jail.

“As police chief, it is my responsibility that the operations centre didn’t have the necessary staffing,” said Ronny Iden, head of the Sogn og Fjordane police district. “After the incident the procedures were immediately changed. I have ensured there will now be two operators on duty, and if someone performs tasks in the jail at the same time, they’ll have communications equipment with them so they’re immediately available to the operations centre.”

Communication breakdown
NRK reported critical information phoned in by witnesses, including “multiple fatalities” and “a person armed with a knife” was never passed on to police and fire fighters heading to the crime scene. Iden said there was no reason to criticize the route the officers on patrol had taken, given the information they had.

The report was also critical of the fact there was no gun in the patrol car, despite a policy requiring the “forward storage” of weapons in police vehicles. “We note the police chief in Sogn og Fjordane has implemented necessary measures to ensure forward storage and the necessary capacity at the operations centre,” Kaare Songstad from the Police Directorate (Politidirektoratet) told NRK. “We expect that he continually follows this up so that preparedness is safeguarded in a proper way.”

The man accused of the killings remains in custody in Bergen, after being transferred out of hospital. He has denied the charges and resisted police questioning. Last week he was remanded in custody in full isolation for another month, but did not appear in court. Lawyer Fredrik Verling argued the man couldn’t appear because his health has deteriorated, and he is seriously ill.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate

  • John Palmer

    Find a way to deport him. Obviously not the kind of person to whom you want to grant asylum.

    • Tom Just Olsen

      it is impossible to deport asylants back to Eritrea and Somalia. They are not ready/willing to receive them. The best we can hope for is that he is ‘returned’ to the country he first entered when coming into Schengen. Most likely Greece or Spain. Chances are great that he will be back here in Norway again.

      • Robert Neve

        No problem. This guy is from South Sudan so neither of those places. Did you forget to read before you rant and paste?

        • Tom Just Olsen

          Makes no difference. The guy who stabbed several to death on the tram here in Oslo (refugee/asylum seeker from the same region) now roams free in the streets here in Oslo. Hopefully, heavily medicated.
          The guy on this Årdal bus was about to be sent out. To Greece. The number of unreturnable asylum seekers has grown to hundredthousands around in Europe. And is still growing.

  • Jan Mysen

    The illegal immigrant would have killed the passengers on the bus irrespective of police response time. The police can only investigate a crime once it has been committed, they can’t prevent it.

    Only armed law abiding citizens on the scene can prevent crimes in progress. Start issuing concealed gun permits and radically amend the self defence laws and there will will be a significant reduction of incidents like this in Norway.

    The number of assault rapes in Oslo would also plummet if women in the city were allowed to carry guns.

    Are there still people in Norway that seriously belive that the authorities can tackle the rampant crime in the country?

    Wake up and smell the coffee.

    • Robert Neve

      Because it’s a proven fact that countries with gun laws have lower rape and murder rates? Oh wait it’s the opposite. Wake up and smell the 21st century. It’s not the wild west any more.

  • Robert Neve

    Oh you like facts? How about the fact you are nearly 9000% more likely to get shot to death in the US over Norway? Or 2000% more likely to be killed using any weapon? Explain to me how them having over 300% more guns per person is showing through in those statistics huh? And let’s look at Australia. 8 mass shootings in 12 years. Gun control is introduced not a single mass shooting since along with a drop in gun related crime and suicides. Oh I can definitely see how guns help now. So excuse me if I value the lives of my family and friends over your right to look like John Wayne.

  • Robert Neve

    Except Norway and Switzerland still don’t have concealed guns and most of the guns are long barreled for hunting. You can’t try to compare a rifle locked at home with a concealed gun. And it’s not a theory. It’s proven fact as per Australia. As much as you want to ignore that.

    I’d love to know where your statistics come from and what they call assault. Because in rape and murder the US has higher rates than the UK or Norway. But if you want to push in robbery maybe it would favour the US. But frankly if I had to pick between losing my phone or my life it’s not a hard choice.

    They would only have been glad if you hadn’t shot them while trying to save yourself. Frequently in the US more people die in cross fire than intended victims. You only have to look at the amount of people the police kill while trying to save them.

    • Jan Mysen

      Yes, let’s try to steer the conversation away from those pesky things called facts shall we. There are an estimated 3 million weapons stored in private homes in Switzerland. Nearly half a million out of those are semi automatic rifles, weapons that can cause tremendous damage. And guess what despite these impressive figures the country still has one of the lowest homicides rates in the world. Same thing goes for Norway where there are approximately 1.3 million weapons in private possession.

      Furthermore your argument that the low number of gun related homicides in Norway and Switzerland are due to the fact that the majority of weapons are long barrelled doesn’t make sense at all. Estimates indicate that there are approximately 720 000 handguns in private possession in Norway, in Switzerland 10 percent of all households in the country have handguns. Similar situation in the Czech Republic, where people are actually allowed to carry concealed weapons in public and use them for self defence, and guess what, the Czech Republic have a lower homicide rate than both the UK and Australia, countries where private gun ownership is severely restricted.

      If we were to apply your logic that the availability of guns results in more gun related crime, then gun owners in Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic should be committing murder on a grand scale, considering the high rate of private gun ownership in those countries, but guess what they don’t. The reason being that the overwhelming majority of those gun owners are law abiding citizens, and law abiding citizens don’t go around killing innocent civilians just because they own firearms.

      Nor do I believe that there would there be a surge in unlawful gun crime if registered gun owners in Norway where allowed to carry concealed weapons in public and use these guns for self defence purposes. There would however probably be a great reduction in overall crime levels in the country, as criminals would think twice before breaking the law.

      By the way here is a link to an article about violent crime in the UK.


      • Robert Neve

        Of course they have a high gun ownership. Every man is trained in the army and then on leaving they are allowed to purchase their guns to keep at home in case of war. Bullets are left in public vaults however and the army tells the men to take the barrel out the handgun and keep it separate. Also the law forbids the gun’s use for defense. Guns are also licensed (renewed every 5 years) and you require a valid reason to possess one. You may not carry a gun concealed.

        So if your whole argument is predicated on ignore the country with concealed weapons laws and look at the one without as proof we should have concealed weapons then try again. The Swiss also have the 5th largest gun homicide rate in the world. The Czech’s are a slightly strange one in that they do allow it. However it again is licensed and you can not just use it whenever. It has to be proven that you used it in a minimal way and only when absolutely required. You can’t just gun a man dead because he happens to pull out a knife while on a bus. There’s also very few Czechs who do actually carry a gun or are even allowed to so clearly it’s not much of a threat.

        Oh what a surprise. To make the figures work you had to massage them. Include all the low end crimes and by using the word violent make it look serious. Shall I take a quote from the British report?

        “Violent crime covers a wide range of offences, from minor assaults such as pushing and shoving
        that result in no physical harm”

        Oh dear god no. I better get a gun so nobody pushes me. You can argue all you like but Europe is not as gunho as the US. We will never find it acceptable to all carry hand guns “for our own defense”. A licensed rifle for a trained person with a clear requirement that is kept securely at home I have no issues with. Giving anyone who wishes to have an automatic handgun that they can carry concealed and use whenever they feel scared is out of the question.

        • Jan Mysen

          Yes, since 2007, ammo for military weapons is stored off site, but ammo for private weapons is not, and just like in Norway private weapons are plentiful in Switzerland. It is also pretty common to see gun owners on public transportation enroute to various local shooting ranges (with guns and ammo on their bodies). It is even legal to purchase semiautomatic weapons. Yet the gun homicide rate is very low.

          And yes, gun owners in Switzerland are taught how to handle weapons just like gun owners in Norway. Most Norwegian males have been in the army where they have received basic weapons training. Furthermore, every single gun licensee in Norway have received additional weapons training during extensive gun licensing courses, so allowing them to carry a concealed weapon in public should not be considered a risk.

          And really, what’s stopping a gun owner in Norway from collecting his or her weapon and going on a shooting rampage? Nothing at all, but hardly anyone does. Not in Norway, not in Switzerland and not in the Czech Republic. What does that tell you? It tells you that gun owners in these countries are responsible and well balanced individuals.

          You also incorrectly assert that Switzerland has the 5th highest gun homicide rate in the world. Check your facts a little bit better next time. Gun homicide rates in Switzerland is 0.5 per 100 000 population which is low, as a matter of fact it’s on par with Canada.

          Concerning the Czech Republic; estimates place the number of individuals who are eligible to carry a concealed weapon to approximately 200 000. That’s not an insignificant number, that’s quite a substantial portion out of an overall population of approximately 10 million. And yes, self defence is deemed a legitimate reason to obtain a conceal carry permit. And no, the authorities don’t issue these permits so that that the permit holder can bash an assailant over the head with his or her concealed gun. The gun and the ammo actually have a purpose.

          And still very little crime in that country, Prague is even considered one of the safest cities in Europe. Imagine that, the European country that allows citizens to carry a concealed weapon in public has one of the lowest crime rates on the continent…..

          • Robert Neve

            You are just jumping from 2 separate things. Owning a gun for specific purposes such as hunting or if you get called up in a war is a totally different thing to carrying a concealed handgun for your own protection. Crossfire, over reacting to the situation and a whole host of social situation handling comes into it beyond the gun. That is why the law does not allow carrying concealed guns and it does not allow you to use guns for general defense.

            Or you can argue it out with the bbc / UNODC

            2% of the country is ALLOWED to carry a gun. Nobody knows how many of them do it. So at a very worst case scenario you have a pretty low chance of coming across one. And saying it is the guns responsible for the low crime doesn’t stand up when the majority of countries with guns have more crime. You can focus on one country sure but I suspect its more likely that the country has only just started coming out of the soviet period. Stealing might not be as profitable there and maybe the police are more effective. Or it could just be the low population. After all if I wanted to play that game I can claim Bhutan is the perfect model for reducing crime.

            • Mark

              Sorry, but in the Czech you have to be a good shot to get a concealed licence; to greatly reduce the risk of “crossfire”. Also, you get training on proper self defence procedures to avoid “over reacting to the situation”. All your arguments are nullified.

              • A Czech

                Mark, I have recently passed the requirements to be issued Gun License in the Czech Republic. Now the authorities have 30 days to check my criminal record and then they shall issue the license.

                You are wrong in asserting that any training on self defense procedure is required (I plan to pass one on my own anyway). However, the written test is aimed at the knowledge of the legislation connected to self defense. The fact is that for self defense license (=concealed carry) the test result must be quite high 75 out of 79, with majority of questions being rated at 3 points, there is basically possibility only for one mistake. Then there is the safe handling practical test, which is very thorough and no mistake is allowed really. This is followed by shooting test, but my guess is that whoever passes the first two, will always also be able to hit the target (10 meters, 4 out 5 needed). English Wikipedia has quite extensive article on it and it is spot on correct in every detail.

                As regards concealed carry, there are areas within the Czech Republic where the people don’t really know what crime is, and where gun ownership is pretty low (South Moravia, South Bohemia, Central Bohemia, Olomouc Region, etc.). Prague is not one of them, however the strong police presence in the capital makes it possible to depend on the authorities nevertheless. But when you venture to towns in Silesia or North-East Bohemia, you will find out that people live there in fear from common criminals (I won’t go into details since writing it in short would sound racist and writing it long would be off topic), and there people do carry their pistols, and do use them in self defense. It does not happen on daily basis, but it does happen more often than anyone would like (be it the gun owners or the criminals).

                The main legal basis is that the defense may not be “MANIFESTLY DISPROPORTIONATE” to the manner of attack. So if you get punch in a face by a guy who weights about the same as you, shooting him back in the face would land you in the jail. However, you have no obligation to retreat in such situation. Once you get hit second or third time with considerable force, you may feel quite safe shooting the attacker in the leg. If he throws you on the ground and continues kicking you, well… You can be quite sure you won’t be prosecuted for using the firearm in any way you consider necessary to stop the attack, even if it ends in the assailant’s death.

                This was to show that if the circumstances warrant it, you may use the firearm even against unarmed assailant in the Czech Republic. I guess you can understand that pulling a knife warrants use of firearm even more so (no, you don’t have to wait to be stabbed one time before you pull the trigger).

                But to the point – the tough requirements to get the license and tough approach to gun owners (misdemeanors such as DUI or public dis-ordinance may lead to revocation of license) make the gun owners even more polite citizens than they were before they started carrying their weapons. At the same time, they are taught that they should never waive their firearm unless they are prepared to really shoot the attacker. And every policeman here will tell you that once you have carry permit, you really should carry the gun and be ready to use it. Because anything is better than being in situation where you need to defend yourself while the firearm is locked inside the safe at home. The popular saying here is “Better to be in-safely prosecuted than being safely dead.”

            • Mark

              Also, in the US, you don’t need any training or licencing to
              acquire weapons in most States. You can in fact buy a gun privately or from a
              gun show without any background checks at all. So, obviously they have
              problems. Being overly draconian like the UK or Australia is pointless as Norway’s
              stats prove it; Canada proves it and especially the Czech Republic.