Around 20 foreign members of the motorcycle club and alleged organized crime group Hells Angels (HA) have begun legal proceedings to ensure that Norwegian authorities do not arrest them when they travel to an event in Stavanger, south-west Norway, during the coming weeks.
The members from Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg – including HA Denmark leader Jørn Jønke Nielsen – have applied to an Oslo district court judge for an interim court order to ensure that police do not arrest them when they attend the 15th anniversary of the foundation of HA Stavanger. The action comes after the arrests of a number of foreign HA members earlier this year.
A previous directive from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (Utlendingsdirektoratet, UDI), which is usually responsible for such matters, has claimed that there are grounds for arrests and deportations of people in motorcycle clubs connected to organized crime. The lawyer representing the men, Geir Jøsendal, told local newspaper Stavanger Aftenbladet that “this has never been tested in a Norwegian court before, and the case will also have a clear international dimension.” He commented that “the treatment my clients have previously received on arrival in Norway is not covered by either Norwegian law or in the decisive EU directive,” adding that the UDI’s own directive “goes against immigration regulations, the Immigration Act and the EU directive.”
In April this year, police arrested 40 non-Norwegian members and associates of HA on their way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rogaland HA club. The police took the action after deciding that the foreign members posed a risk to public safety, as it was suspected that the organization had invited the overseas members in a show of strength directed at other motorcycle clubs. 20 of those arrested are now bringing action against the Norwegian government in order to avoid future arrests. Lawyer Jøsendal commented that “none of the 20 have ever committed criminal offences in Norway,” adding that some of the 20 had no criminal record in any country. He also stressed that there had been 200 HA events in the country since 1990 and “there has never been serious criminality at any of these.” He believes that “Norway cannot continue with its doubtful practices before the case [brought by the 20 from April] is concluded.”
Concerns about motorcycle gangs in Norway – including HA and other international groups like the Bandidos and Outlaws – have been growing in recent years. A suspected leader of HA, Leif Kristiansen, was jailed for four years and nine months earlier in 2011 for robbery and drug dealing.
Lawyer Jøsendal interprets the actions of the UDI and the police as part of “general counteractions against the motorcycle scene,” but believes that “there is no legal authority” for this. “As EEA [European Economic Area] citizens, my clients have a clear legal claim to be able to visit the country,” he concluded.
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