Hit-and-run defendants kept in jail

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A court in Jæren, western Norway, ordered that a couple charged with negligent homicide in the death of a 12-year-old boy last Friday be held in prison for at least the next two weeks, while police continue to investigate the fatal hit-and-run accident. The court order came on the same day that young Olav Hovda was laid to rest at Klepp Church south of Stavanger.

The court ruling was in line with what police had requested. Both defendants have denied guilt and the man has claimed he was not driving the car the couple owned, which police found in a repair shop this week not far from where the 12-year-old was run down while out roller skiing with his father Friday evening. The boy died the next day from the injuries he sustained at a hospital in Stavanger, and his funeral was held on Thursday.

‘Just ran into something’
The owner of KS Bilservice in Sandnes, Kjell Sund, told news bureau NTB that a woman called him late Friday night and asked whether he could replace the windshield on her green Ford Focus station wagon. She delivered the car to his repair shop on Saturday.

Since police had announced that they were looking for a red car that could have been the hit-and-run vehicle, Sund said he didn’t connect the woman’s damaged car to the accident that has dominated Norwegian media since the weekend. In addition to its cracked windshield, Sund said the car had two small, deep holes on its hood. The woman claimed she had “just ran into something” and he started to repair the car.

Then police arrived, started asking questions and seized the car. Local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that police had recovered data from a nearby toll plaza that helped narrow down vehicles they were looking for. They now claim they have technical evidence that links the car to the one that hit Olav Hovda.

Prior convictions
Newspaper VG has reported that the man charged in Hovda’s death had his driver’s license taken away from him in late 2011 after being found guilty of drunk driving on the same road where Hovda was hit. He also has a record of other convictions, mostly drug- and alcohol-related.

Both he and his wife are from Klepp, where the hit-and-run occurred, and VG also reported that the woman has earlier been convicted on narcotics charges and for fraud.

Now they’ll be kept in custody until January 24, in full isolation for the first week, to prevent any manipulation of evidence. Their defense attorneys had argued against the remand custody, but lost.

Large turnout at boy’s funeral
Meanwhile, an estimated 500 persons packed Klepp Church on Thursday to attend the boy’s funeral services on Thursday. NRK reported that another 200 persons followed the ceremony on a video screen set up outside the church.

All of the victim’s seventh-grade classmates attended the funeral service, which was led by Pastor Andreas Haarr. The pastor said he understood how incomprehensible the death of the 12-year-old is, not least for his parents, and that it was difficult to offer sufficient comfort.

He noted how Norwegians all over the country have followed news of the accident, and that Olav Hovda’s family was in many of their thoughts.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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