Police officer ‘shocked’ by indictment

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UPDATED: Eirik Jensen, formerly one of the Oslo Police District’s most high-profile investigators and top officers, says he’s “shocked” that he’s been indicted for serious corruption and narcotics smuggling. “I look forward to meet my opponents in court, and look them in the eye,” Jensen told newspaper Aftenposten Monday afternoon.

State prosecutors handed down the historic indictment against Jensen on Monday. It marks the first time in the history of the Norwegian police that such a high-ranking officer has been indicted on such serious charges, and police leaders find it deeply disturbing.

“It’s clear this case puts a burden on the entire police department,” Deputy Police Chief in Oslo, Sveinung Sponheim, told newspaper Aftenposten Tuesday morning. Many of Jensen’s colleagues will be called upon to testify at his trial, and there’s also concern over how the case will affect public confidence in the police. The case also represents more suspicions of corruption in Norway, although Jensen’s colleagues in the police officers’ union were quick to stress that he’s innocent until proven guilty.

‘Living legend’ in serious trouble
Jensen, often called a “living legend” within the Oslo police for his crusades against some of the Norwegian capital’s toughest criminals, was first arrested in February 2014 on charges of corruption and drug trafficking himself. He was held in custody for several months while other police officers investigated the charges, which led to his indictment on Monday,

Prosecutors believe Jensen not only was an accessory to drug smuggling but that he received NOK 2.1 million to help another charged drug smuggler, Gjermund Cappelen of Bærum, import nearly 14 tons of hash into Norway.

It was the so-called “hash baron” Cappelen, who went on trial last fall for smuggling hash into Norway, who implicated Jensen in his own crimes. Cappelen admitted in the local court that he smuggled as much as 30 tons of hash over a 20-year period, and claimed he spent all the money it generated on a lavish lifestyle. Prosecutors, however, believe Cappelen has stashed a fortune abroad.

Cappelen’s defense attorney told state broadcaster NRK and TV2 on Monday that his client is nonetheless “satisfied” that investigators have believed his claims that Jensen was involved in the smuggling, and that he paid off Jensen to prevent him from revealing the widespread hash operation.

Merely nurtured an informant
Jensen, who claims his involvement with Cappelen was purely professional in nature and aimed at gaining insider status into drug smuggling circles, has vehemently denied Cappelen’s claims against him. Jensen has all along claimed that Cappelen was merely his informant, and some of his police colleagues suggest Jensen has been framed.

The indictment handed down against Jensen on Monday was far more comprehensive than expected. Jensen told newspaper Aftenposten he was “shocked” buy its contents. He said, however, that “it will be good to look my opponents in the eye during the upcoming court case.”

“Yes, I look forward to that, because everyone in the courtroom appears on the same premises, in a common arena,” Jensen told Aftenposten. “I’ll get an opportunity to defend myself against these charges.”

His high-profile defense attorneys John Christian Elden and Arild Holden say they will fight for their client’s innocence in court. Elden suggests he’s surprised the investigators have believed admitted drug smuggler Cappelen’s version of events. “He (Cappelen) is motivated to get a milder punishment by appearing to cooperate with police, and testify against Eirik Jensen,” Elden told NRK. “This doesn’t taste good.”

Guro Glærum Kleppe of the Oslo Police District’s internal affairs division said the investigation and indictment are based on massive electronic evidence, analysis of Jensen’s income and statements made by 250 witnesses in the case. Jensen’s trial is set to begin this fall and last for 16 weeks.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund