Police remained unable on Monday to question an asylum seeker suspected of stabbing to death three persons on a bus from Årdal last week. He’s allegedly too mentally ill to talk, but has appealed a court order to keep him in custody.
“With that he’s contending that he believes he is not guilty,” the suspect’s defense attorney, Fredrik Verling, told news bureau NTB. His client was ordered held in custody last Thursday for at least four weeks, in full isolation, while police continue to investigate the triple murder.
Verling’s client was found wielding a knife on board the regularly scheduled long-distance bus from the Valdresekspressen line last Monday evening. He threatened motorists who had stopped to help after what they thought was a traffic accident but later appeared to be a hijacking.
Instead they encountered the suspect, who was said to appear “desperate,” and “blood all over” the bus. Ambulance personnel, arriving at the scene before the police did, eventually contained the suspect and then found the bus driver and the only two other passengers on board the bus stabbed to death.
The defendant, a 30-year-old refugee from South Sudan whose application for asylum in Norway had been rejected, was taken first to hospital in Bergen and then to the Sandviken psychiatric hospital in Bergen, where he remains under treatment.
Verling has described his client as “calm,” even “friendly,” but police have been told he’s still too disturbed to undergo questioning. “We naturally want to question him as quickly as possible,” regional sheriff for Indre Sogn, Åge Løseth, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday. “He has extremely important information about what in fact happened on board the bus, and therefore it’s important for us to get his version.”
News bureau NTB has reported that the man claims he doesn’t remember being on board the bus. Verling said his client thus denies criminal responsibility for the stabbings and has demanded to be released.