An estimated 30,000 Norwegians seeking justice for the rape and murder of student Martine Vik Magnussen in London three years ago have launched a boycott against Coca-Cola products. They’re protesting Coca-Cola’s business ties with the wealthy father of her suspected murderer, who has eluded arrest by British police.
It’s widely believed that murder suspect Farouk Abdulhak, age 24, fled to his father’s home in Yemen just after Vik Magnussen’s body was found in the cellar of Abdulhak’s apartment building in London. His father, Shaher Abdulhak, is believed to be hiding his son and hindering his arrest. Yemen has no extradition treaty with either the UK or Norway.
Shaher Abdulhak, meanwhile, has extensive business ties with Coca-Cola, selling their products in Yemen, Egypt and Libya through his company Shaher Trading. Vik Magnussen’s supporters and representatives of every political party in the Norwegian Parliament have also urged other firms, including Mercedes-Benz, Xerox and Philips to consider the ethical aspects of doing business with Abdulhak while his son evades the charges against him.
The boycott of Coca-Cola formally began March 1 and will last for 14 days, according to the website formed by supporters of Vik Magnussen, www.justiceformartine.com (external link).
“We do not want Coca-Cola to do business with a person hiding an internationally wanted suspect in the rape and murder case of Martine Vik Magnussen,” reported the website. “We will stay away from purchasing Coca-Cola products for two weeks from March 1st.” The goal, according to the website, is to tell “you guys in Coca-Cola that we want you to care, and do something now!”
Stein Rømmerud, communications director for Coca-Cola Norge, admitted to newspaper Aftenposten that “this is not positive for us.” Aftenposten reported that Coca-Cola’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia will “make an initiative” towards Shaher Abdulhak soon.
“At the request of Coca-Cola, we can’t reveal the details, but efforts are being made to find a solution with Shaher Abdulhak,” Sturla Ellingvåg, who initiated the boycott that’s supported by a foundation set up for Vik Magnussen, told Aftenposten.
Vik Magnussen was killed on March 14, 2008. To mark the third anniversary of her murder, publishing firm Gyldendal in Oslo is also hosting a lecture at its headquarters at 4pm on March 14 on “the hunt for justice for Martine.” The speaker is Marianne Vikås, who wrote a book with the same title.
Vik Magnussen’s murder has also engaged top politicians in Norway including former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, now a peace broker who has tried to arrange meetings with Abdulhak to negotiate the handover of his son. His efforts have so far been in vain as have those of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, which claims it has “through various channels” encouraged Abdulhak’s family to get “the suspect” to return voluntarily to the UK and face the charges against him. Ministry officials have also supported British authorities in their work to get him into court and Norwegian diplomats have traveled to Yemen several times, to take up the issue with government officials there.
The senior Abdulhak instead has sent threatening letters to all the seven members of the Norwegian Parliament who urged Abdulhak’s business partners to consider “the ethical aspects” of their association with Abdulhak. The letters suggest legal claims may be made for compensation, if the parliamentarians’ actions are deemed to have damaged Abdulhak’s reputation.
The Norwegian politicians have said they refuse to be threatened and will continue their own efforts to seek justice for Vik Magnussen and her family. An estimated 30,000 persons have registered their support for the Coca-Cola boycott on Facebook. A Facebook group for Vik Magnussen now has around 150,000 members while around 1,000 persons marched in a recent torchlight parade for the murder victim.