Police: ‘Sigrid was a random victim’

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Norwegian teenager Sigrid Giskegjerde Schjetne, whose disappearance and death continued to dominate local media on Thursday, was more than likely a “random victim,” according to police. As they investigate many theories into what happened to her, the possibility has arisen that she was accidentally run down by a reckless driver who panicked and hid her body.

Two men charged with her murder faced a custody hearing later in the day, at which prosecutors will ask the court to keep them confined while police carry on their massive probe. The two men, aged 37 and 64, were arrested Monday night while tinkering at an automobile workshop in Kolbotn, just meters from where Schjetne’s body was finally found the same night.

Vehicles seized
Police, who have been reluctant to reveal details of the investigation and still haven’t revealed the exact cause of Schjetne’s death, told reporters on Wednesday that they don’t believe the teenager had any relation to the two men charged in her murder.

Police have seized several vehicles linked to the two men, and several media are reporting that Schjetne may have been hit by a car driven by one of them, possibly the 37-year-old resident of Ålesund with a history of psychiatric problems and criminal convictions. Newspaper Dagsavisen reported Thursday that police inspector Hanne Kristin Rohde had confirmed that a collision involving Schjetne, who was walking home Saturday night August 4 when she disappeared in the Østensjø district on Oslo’s east side, was among “several possibilities” police were investigating.

It’s also been reported that the 37-year-old suspect sold a car with damage from a collision just a few days after Schjetne disappeared. Newspaper Dagbladet reported that his 64-year-old friend, who also has been charged in the case, had told others that he suspected that someone he knew was involved in Schjetne’s disappearance. That information has been passed on to the police, who continue to solicit and receive tips in a case that has resulted in unprecedented public interest and concern.

Suspect’s family tipped police
It was a tip from a worried member of the 37-year-old’s family who alerted police at the Sunnmøre Police District in Ålesund that led to discoveries at his apartment in the west coast city that ultimately prompted them to contact their colleagues in Oslo. The family had been worried about the man’s mental health, and newspaper Aftenposten reported that the police, upon hearing of his movements and “other circumstances,” could tie him directly to Schjetne’s disappearance.

“We worked hard over the weekend with these tips, while also working with other tips that were very interesting,” Rohde told reporters on Wednesday, adding that “information from the Sunnmøre police stood out” and prompted the “action” Monday night that resulted in the arrests and discovery of Schjetne’s body.

More debate over punishment
Meanwhile, reports that the 37-year-old earlier had been sentenced to two years in prison for a violent assault on a young woman have led to new claims that Norway’s prison sentences are too mild.

The law allows for longer jail terms but court precedent often leaves judges sentencing convicted offenders to much milder punishment. John Christian Elden, defense attorney for the 37-year-old, maintains that his client’s two-year term was relatively tough. Some offenders get only six-month terms, while a young man from Drøbak was ordered just a few weeks ago to perform 75 hours of community service after being convicted of hitting and kicking two men in the face.

Politicians from both the Conservative Party and the Center Party, the latter of which is a member of the ruling government coalition, want judges to use the full extent of the law. “Politicians have made provisions for stronger punishment,” Jenny Klinge of the Center Party told Dagsavisen. “It’s possible to use the maximum framework of the law more often.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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