Police forced to release violent man

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Police in Haugesund on Norway’s west coast had to release a man from custody on Wednesday even though he’d been charged with rape and wife-beating, and even though a court had ordered him held on fears he’d attack again. The reason: There were no available jail cells in which to detain him.

“There aren’t any cells for remand custody available at present, not anywhere in the country,” police lawyer Brita Lysaker of the Haugaland og Sunnhordland Police District told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “We didn’t have any choice but to release the person.”

Local newspaper Haugesunds Avis wrote that the man’s wife had reported him to police over the weekend for repeated assault. He was arrested and held in a cell at the police station until Tuesday, when the court ordered him held for at least another four weeks while police continued to investigate the case.

Police aren’t allowed to hold remand prisoners in the fairly spartan police station cells for such an extended period, though, and there was nowhere else to send him, according to Lysaker.

The court had ordered the relatively lengthy remand custody because fare for gjentakelse (danger that he would attack again). “That’s what the police fear, too,” admitted Lysaker. “But if there aren’t any remand cells, that’s the way it is. We can only hold a person in police arrest a certain number of hours, or just a few days. After that the person must be released.”

She told NRK that the defendant, who in keeping with Norwegian press custom was not identified, was issued with a restraining order to stay away from his wife. Asked how the police could otherwise protect his wife, Lysaker said he also was ordered to report daily to the police throughout the four weeks he was supposed to be in custody.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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