Norway ‘broke human rights’

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The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Norway violated the human rights of businessman Hroar Hansen when its courts threw out his appeals in a battle over real estate. 

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Norway's courts. Council of Europe Credits

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that businessman Hroar Hansen of Drammen was not given a fair trial in Norway’s court system. PHOTO: Council of Europe Credits

Newspaper VG reported that Hansen now expects Norway’s Supreme court to reconsider his long-standing disagreement with Terje Høili, the billionaire owner of a grocery chain called Europris.

At ther heart of the matter is a property called Ekheim in Kråkerøy, near Fredrikstad in Østfold County, which is close to Hansen’s heart but now the site of the largest private residence in Norway. Together with his former wife, the late Bitten Bekkevold, Hansen bought Ekheim decades ago, but lost the property in a divorce settlement when their marriage ended.

The property was later purchased by Høili, who used it for a 3500 square meters home valued at NOK 120 million (USD 19 million).

“I don’t care what Høili has built in my orchard. I just want my property back,” Hansen told VG on Tuesday. Høili declined to comment on the matter when contacted by VG.

Hansen had sued Høili, but lost the case in a local court (tingretten) in 20o8.  He then appealed the verdict, but the appeals court (lagmannsretten) and the Supreme Court both refused to hear the case. The colorful Hansen of Drammen, a former industrialist, newspaper editor and once deputy chairman of the Progress Party, then took his case to Strasbourg. The European Court of Human Rights, which has also overruled Norway’s courts on earlier occasions, concluded on October 2 that Hansen was not given a fair trial. The court ruled that Norway’s court system had violated Article six of the European Human Rights Convention by not providing sufficient grounds for rejecting Hansen’s appeals.

Mads Andenæs, a professor of law at the University of Oslo, told VG that he’s not surprised by the verdict.

“Competent lawyers disagree in this field. It’s always embarrassing to lose in Strasbourg, because Norway is supposed to stay well within (the convention), but this is not really an embarrassing case because there are good reasons to disagree”, Andenæs said.

Following the ruling in Strasbourg, Norway’s Supreme court is expected to hear Hansen’s appeal. He told newspaper Fredrikstad Blad, “I want Ekheim back and Høili will have to move.

newsinenglish.no staff