Rapist gets Norway’s toughest jail term

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A former dancer who’s been convicted of raping 18 women and abusing his former live-in partner was sentenced on Wednesday to Norway’s toughest possible punishment: 21 years of special custody that can keep him confined for life. Any appeal will now have to be sought from the country’s Supreme Court.

The 21-year sentence handed to convicted rapist Julio Kopseng is the same as the one for mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik, and Kopseng’s defense attorney said they would consider an appeal to Norway’s highest court. The sentence, issued by an appeals court in Oslo, is the toughest punishment ever handed down in a rape case in Norway, and was in line with what prosecutors had demanded.

‘Strong signal’
“We asked for the such a strong sentence because of the extent of the case, its character and its brutality,” prosecutor Guro Hansson Bull told reporters. She stressed the number of rapes involved and that Kopseng also was convicted of an attemped rape as well.

Bull said the sentence should send a strong signal that the courts in Norway take rape cases seriously and that it’s important for rape victims to report assaults, even if time had passed since they occurred. Charges against Kopseng grew as his own case proceeded in court, with more and more women filing legal complaints of how he was intially charming, but then doped them and violently raped them, only to act later as if nothing had happened.

Kopseng has consistently denied guilt as the complaints against him mounted. The 38-year-old dancer, who has appeared on national TV in Norway, was sentenced to 12 years of the special custody known as forvaring in December of last year, after being convicted of raping 11 other women.

‘No comment’ from the convict
Defense attorney Johnny Veum told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that his client “has no desire to comment on the sentence.” Kopseng was also ordered to pay compensation amounting to NOK 2.7 million (USD 325,000) to the women he raped and abused.

It’s extremely seldom that the law’s maximum jail term of 21 years is used in cases of the special custody known as forvaring, which is meant to protect the public from particularly dangerous criminals. Kopseng will have to serve at least 10 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole and even after 21 years, a judge can determine that he still represents a threat and thus keep him confined.

“Now we will read through the appeal court’s sentence to see whether there are any errors or deficiencies that could justify an appeal to the Supreme Court,” Veum said.

Trine Rjukan, an attorney for some of the victims in the case, said her clients were “extremely satisfied” with the sentence. “This has been what they wanted,” Rjukan told NRK. “The way forward here has been very tough and long. Many of them have been in despair about whether they should report his rapes, or whether they had the strength to endure such a difficult process. They are extremely relieved today.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund