Just days before a landmark legal challenge to oil activity in Norway’s Arctic won a date in court, a mock trial on the controversial issue was carried out during an annual cultural event in the northern Norwegian city of Kirkenes. After three days of staged court hearings, the people wanting to halt Arctic oil activity won over the state’s ongoing policies of promoting it.
The Independent Barents Observer could report last week (external link to its story) how the mock trial was staged on an outdoor “courtroom” made of ice as part of the annual Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes. It was a theatrical version of what was called “The Trial of the Century,” and it literally set the scene for the actual upcoming courtroom trial in Oslo of the lawsuit filed by environmental organizations backed by a long list of supporters. The real trial is now due to begin on November 13 and will run until November 24.
After Norway’s highly acclaimed law professor Hans Petter Graver played the part of prosecutor in the staged trial, the jury (made up of the audience) delivered its verdict: The people won against the state by a vote of 74 to 49, even in a region of Norway where there’s a lot of support for oil activity because of the economic activity it can generate. That was among issues at last week’s annual Kirkenes Conference, which ran parallel to the Barents Spektakel cultural event.
Graver, on the faculty of the University of Oslo, told the Independent Barents Observer that he doubts the result will have much influence on the upcoming court proceeding. “But the performance can contribute to discussion on these important issues,” Graver said.
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