Convicted rapist charged in teenager’s disappearance

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A man convicted of rape in 2007 has been charged with making false statements to the police in connection with the disappearance of 16-year-old Sigrid Giskegjerde Schjetne, reports VG Nett. The man also may have some link to Schjetne or her family.

Police released this photo of Schjetne from a bus' surveillance camera the night she disappeared. PHOTO: Politi

VG Nett reported that he’s within Schjetne’s nærmiljø, a word often used in police investigations but which is highly ambiguous. It can mean friends, family, acquaintances or simply people living or working in the vicinity of someone’s home, job or school. In this case it was unclear.

The charges are nonetheless the first sign of a breakthrough in the case, although police have been unwilling to provide details. TV2 reported Wednesday night that police had charged a man with what’s called falsk forklaring, literally that he earlier had given information to the police that was found to be untrue. Police, according to newspaper Aftenposten, think he was lying.

VG Nett reported that he had gone to police and delivered observations as a witness in the case after hearing about Schjetne’s disappearance in the media. The teenager disappeared around midnight on Saturday August 5 while walking home from a visit with a girlfriend in the eastside Oslo neighbourhood of Østensjø.

Her disappearance set off an enormous and ongoing search by volunteers in addition to the police investigation. Public response and interest in the case has impressed both police and Schjetne’s parents, who also have offered a reward for information leading to her return.

VG reported Thursday that the man now charged in the case was convicted of rape by an appeals court five years ago. Police are said to have checked out his observations and, after a reconstruction of Schjetne’s movements on August 5 and discovery of some of her belongings at a nearby day care center, determined that what he said couldn’t be correct.

He now has the same defense attorney as he did in the rape case, Kim Gerdts, who declined comment other than to suggest that the police charges were a “sham” and would be challenged. Harald Stabell, the publicly appointed attorney for Schjetne’s parents, wouldn’t comment on the charges.

Hanne Kristin Rohde, in charge of vice crimes for the Oslo Police District, didn’t deny that charges had been filed but also declined comment with regard to the ongoing investigation.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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