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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Bhatti arrested again, but released

Arfan Bhatti, best known for being the first person in Norway to be charged under new anti-terrorism laws, was back in police custody earlier this week on new charges of domestic violence. A city court judge ended up releasing him at mid-day Wednesday, but slapped him with a restraining order against appearing at his own home and ordered him to regularly check in with police.

Police had considered boosting the charges against Bhatti because of his violent behaviour when police arrived on the scene of his most recent assault late Monday night. They wanted to keep him in custody for at least two weeks and during their appeal of his release, but they lost on both counts. The judge reportedly saw no reason to keep Bhatti in jail while police continued investigating Monday’s assault.

Bhatti’s defense attorney, John Christian Elden, had told newspaper VG that his client was charged with inflicting bodily injury after hitting a family member in the head. The victim required seven stitches and Bhatti also was said to be highly aggressive when police tried to apprehend him around 1am Tuesday.

Bhatti, age 34, has a long record of convictions for making threats, extortion and violence. He formerly worked as a so-called “torpedo,” a harsh form of collection agent, and he also was charged in connection with shots fired at a synagogue in Oslo and against a house in suburban Bærum.

Norway’s Supreme Court later reversed his convictions in the shooting incidents on the grounds of technical errors in the case against him.

Bhatti has in recent years transformed himself into a radical Muslim, taking part in various demonstrations. In January, the formerly close-shaven Bhatti appeared at a demonstration in front of the Parliament with a full beard and claimed that “Norway was at war with Muslims.” He told the sparse crowd assembled that “the Norwegian people must realize that their safety is threatened as long as Norway has soldiers in Afghanistan. That’s not a threat, it’s a warning in your own best interests.”

Bhatti has been called to testify at the upcoming trial of confessed anti-Islamic terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, to face questions from Breivik’s defense attorneys on ideology and his views on a war between Islam and western interests. Breivik also has claimed such a war is going on.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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