Krekar back in court, denies threats

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When Mullah Krekar told a group of journalists that a top Norwegian politician would die if he’s expelled from Norway and dies, too, back home in Iraq, he claims he wasn’t making threats. He told a court in Oslo on Wednesday that rather, he was simply analyzing the consequences of an official expulsion.

Mullah Krekar at the meeting with Norway's Foreign Press Association in June 2010, when he said that if he's sent back to Iraq and killed, Erna Solberg would die, too. He now claims that was no threat, merely an analysis of the consequences of a deportation. PHOTO: Nina Berglund / Views and News

Krekar, under indictment for threatening former government minister Erna Solberg and three “fallen” Muslims in Norway,  was back in court (Oslo Tingrett) on Wednesday. For the past two decades, the former guerrilla leader who keeps getting in trouble has been trying to resist efforts to deport him. Now he’s trying to stay out of jail as well.

He faces 15 years in prison for allegedly violating, among other laws, one that’s invoked against anyone who uses violence, threats or other illegal means to hinder Norway’s king, regent, government ministers, members and staff of parliament and court officials in their duties.

Prosecutors also have claimed that Krekar’s praise of Osama bin Laden and suicide bombers also incite violence and terror, which can lead to an eight-year prison term. Krekar has continued to make a variety of statements in which he encourages practicing Muslims to kill those who abandon the faith. Among them are three Kurdish men living in Oslo, who claim they live in fear because of Krekar’s proclamations against them.

Krekar doesn’t deny what he’s said and written, but claims he can’t be punished for it because his alleged threats are rather a “political interpretation” of what he’s said. He claims he’s merely communicating the consequences of various situations.

“From our side, these aren’t threats at all,” Arvid Sjødin, one of Krekar’s defense attorneys, told newspaper Dagsavisen on Wednesday. “Mullah Krekar must have permission to say what the consequences of a deportation (for example) would be, without that being seen as a threat.”

In Solberg’s case, she was the government minister in charge of immigration issues when efforts were first made to deport Krekar 10 years ago. Today she’s head of the Conservative Party in Norway and a leader of the opposition in Parliament, but Krekar claims she’d be held responsible if he’s sent back to Iraq and killed.

That’s unlikely to occur. Even though Krekar himself has been deemed a threat to national security and the authorities keep trying to send him out of Norway, they can’t without a guarantee from Iraqi authorities that he won’t be arrested and subject to Iraq’s death penalty. No such guarantee has been offered.

So he remains in Norway, where he wore out his welcome long ago and frequently infuriates many Norwegians. Prosecutor Marit Bakkevig maintains that his various statements “must be interpreted as threats meant to incite serious fear, get the authorities to avoid taking action and encouraging illegal actions.” She’s ready to show the court various interviews with Krekar and other taped statements he’s made, and prove that his so-called “analyses” are threats.

“It will be a question of whether they are threats, if they can be interpreted as threats and whether they’re punishable under the law,” another of Krekar’s defense attorneys, Brynjar Meling, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The case is expected to last three weeks.

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Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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