Further arrest in church arson case

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An 18 year-old male was arrested and questioned late on Friday night in the arson case surrounding the Østre Porsgrunn church, while the church council received further good news in the form of a large donation to help build the church anew.

Østre Porsgrunn Church. PHOTO: Den Norske Kirke

A 17 year-old had already been arrested last week after a lengthy, resource-intensive police investigation into the burning down of the 250 year-old historic church on April 11. After police hinted at the possibility of further arrests on Friday, an 18 year-old was also arrested and questioned.

The police were granted permission on Friday to hold the 17 year-old suspect in custody for a further week in order to carry out questioning and gather evidence. The 18 year-old had met with his lawyer, Hauge Husaas, who could not say how his client had reacted to the accusations.

Meanwhile, those hoping to rebuild the church have received a NOK 100,000 (over USD 19,000) donation from Petter Stordalen, the CEO of leading investment firm Home Invest and one of the country’s richest men, in order to build a new church building in the same location. This has been added to the NOK 300,000 (more than USD 57,000) already donated by a number of individuals and companies. The church council leader, Ola Horg Jacobsen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he had been “almost struck speechless” by the gift, which gave him “a lump in the throat,” and promised that it would be “well spent.”

Stordalen himself, who was baptized, confirmed and married at Østre Porsgrunn, told NRK that he “must contribute” because of his “close connection to the church through family, childhood and growing up.” He last visited the church 17 years ago for the funeral of his father.

Views and News staff