Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik is tapping into his own diplomatic and political sources in an effort to bring the suspected murderer of Norwegian student Martine Vik Magnussen to justice. The suspect reportedly continues to hide out in luxury in the Middle East.
Bondevik, who now runs a peace institute in Oslo, told newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend that he involved himself in the case early this year. He has been quietly trying ever since to prod the suspect’s wealthy family to get him to turn himself in.
The suspect, 23-year-old Farouk Abdulhak, is charged with the rape and murder of Magnussen in March 2008. Both were studying in London at the time and Magnussen was last seen leaving a nightclub with Abdulhak.
She disappeared, as did Abdulhak, but her body was found in the cellar of his apartment building. British police reported that Abdulhak had flown out of London the morning after her disappearance, and he’s believed to have been hiding out mostly in his wealthy father’s home country of Yemen.
Abdulhak’s father, Shaher Abdulhak, is one of Yemen’s wealthiest and most powerful men. British police believe he’s been protecting his son, who has refused to face the charges against him. Yemen has no extradition treaty with either Great Britain or Norway.
Bondevik told Aftenposten that he’d read about the case, called it “disturbing in so many ways,” and agreed to help after a request from Magnussen’s family. Her father has said he won’t rest until his daughter’s killer is brought to justice.
Bondevik won’t identify his main contact in Yemen, but says the contact provides a channel to reach the government in Yemen and the Abdulhak family.
“The goal is to try to get the Yemeni authorities and the family to understand that both sides are best served if (the younger) Abdulhak voluntarily travels to Great Britain for a trial,” Bondevik said.
When asked what the father, Shaher Abdulhak, replies, Bondevik said he’d been told that Farouk Abdulhak “is an independent young man who does as he pleases.” At the same time, Bondevik said, he believes the elder Abdulhak realizes that the rape and murder charges “damage Yemen’s image internationally, and they damage Shaher Abdulhak’s reputation as a businessman.”
Shaher Abdulhak recently won a compensation claim against Norwegian oil company DNO, and that put him back into the news in Norway last week.
Bondevik said the young Abdulhak remains disinclined to follow the advice that he turn himself in, “at least for now.” Bondevik indicated he is “optimistic” the situation will change.
The former prime minister said the father continues to support his son economically, however, and that the young Abdulhak reportedly moves between Yemen, Cairo and Dubai. Farouk Abdulhak has various passports, including one from the USA, and is believed to fly around in his father’s private jet.
Bondevik said he thinks the father and son hope the rape and murder of Martine Vik Magnussen will soon be forgotten by the media, Scotland Yard and “other supporters who are working for justice for Martine.” Scotland Yard investigators, however, were recently in Norway to question Magnussen’s family and friends, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry has kept the case a high priority and the Norwegian media continues to follow the case closely. Even Queen Elizabeth has sent a letter of condolence to Magnussen’s family.
“Farouk Abdulhak isn’t willing to give himself up yet,” Bondevik told Aftenposten. “But he’s under great pressure and influence from the authorities in Yemen and his own family. I have faith in a solution to this case.”