Orderuds withdraw new trial request

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Two of Norway’s most famous convicted murderers, Per and Veronica Orderud, have withdrawn a motion their lawyers filed seven years ago asking for a new trial. They haven’t given up on getting their convictions reversed, though, and instead link the withdrawal to frustration over how their motion was handled.

“We’ve been subject to treatment (by the state commission that determines whether criminal cases should be re-opened) that we’re extremely critical of,” Frode Sulland, the defense attorney represented the Orderud couple, told newspaper Dagsavisen on Tuesday. He called the withdrawal “undramatic but frustrating.”

Triple murder at the family farm
Per Orderud and his wife Veronica were among four defendants convicted in a triple murder at the family farm northeast of Oslo, Orderud gård, on the night of May 22, 1999. Per Orderud’s sister, Anne Orderud Paust, and their elderly parents were killed execution-style inside the parents’ home on the farm.

The family had been in conflict over who would inherit the farm for years, and, as it came out in court at the time, relations between Per Orderud and his sister were not good. Adding to the drama surrounding the triple murder were what appeared to be two previous assassination attempts against Anne Orderud Paust and her husband, Per Paust, who held high diplomatic positions within Norway’s Foreign Ministry. He died of cancer just two months before the murders took place.

Anne Orderud Paust also had worked for the government, and the triple murder has been one of the most widely reported cases in Norway since World War II. After major, lengthy trials,  Per and Veronica Orderud were sentenced to Norway’s longest prison term allowed, 21 years, while two alleged accomplices, Kristin Kirkemo and Lars Grønnerud, were sentenced to 18 and 16 years in prison respectively.

Still deny guilt
The Orderuds have consistently professed innocence and wanted evidence presented at their trials to be re-evaluated. It never was determined actually who pulled the trigger in the murders. Some private investigators have claimed they have new leads in the case, which the Orderuds want pursued as they continue to serve their prison terms.

Sulland, however, told Dagsavisen that the commission won’t pay for more investigation, and deadlines set by the commission last year were disputed by the Orderuds. A change in leadership on the commission also led to delays and confusion, Sulland said, and ultimately, the decision to withdraw.

A new motion to re-open the trial may be filed. “They are absolutely free to come back with a new motion if they want to,” Helen Sæter, leader of the commission, told Dagsavisen. All four convicts are nearing the stage where they can be allowed supervised leave from prison, and Veronica Orderud already has been released to go to the  movies, go shopping and to a hair salon, part of the Norwegian system of attempting to rehabilitate criminals and help them return to society.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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