The man accused of killing two passengers and the driver of a bus near Årdal last November has had his charges upgraded from manslaughter to murder. Police believe the asylum seeker from South Sudan planned the killings, and upgraded the indictment on Wednesday to three charges of premeditated murder.
The man is charged with stabbing to death a 19-year-old woman and two men aged in their 50s on the Valdresekspressen bus, the night before he was to be deported from the Årdal asylum center. The man was immediately charged with manslaughter. Police would not give details on the assessments made which led to the charges being upgraded to murder, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
“It lies in the accusation that the actions were planned, and that lies behind the assessments,” said police lawyer Jørn Lasse Refsnes. “It is not a question of some impulsive action. I cannot go further into the details. It must wait until the district attorney and the attorney general have settled the question of prosecution, and that lies before an indictment decision.”
In Norway, murder carries a maximum penalty of 21 years imprisonment, while negligent killing has a maximum penalty of three years, or six years if the actions were committed in particular circumstances.
The man refused any attempts at police questioning, but earlier this month court-appointed psychiatrists said he was sane and able to stand trial. The man’s lawyer, Fredrik Verling, said he was not surprised the charges had been upgraded, but his client had the right to refuse to make a statement.
“Police believe his explanation is not decisive in relation to sentencing, so the case in the police’s view has sufficient information to be able to asses the prosecution without his explanation,” Verling said.