A dramatic murder case continued in a Drammen courtroom this week, nearly two years after the badly burned body of a top shipping executive in Oslo was found in his wife’s charred BMW in the small town of Tranby, southwest of the capital. Prosecutors believe his wife killed him, and so do the couple’s children.
The case also involves alleged abuse of five of the couple’s six children. Their 53-year-old mother was arrested and charged with the premeditated murder of their father, Per Gunnar Asheim, just a few days after his body was found. She has been in police custody ever since.
The defendant has partially admitted to the child abuse charges but firmly denies she murdered her husband, claiming he committed suicide. The couple’s eldest daughter, now age 29, called the suicide claim “absurd” when she testified as the trial began earlier this month. The couple had been quarreling over custody of their younger children in a pending divorce case. “I think mother planned the murder,” the daughter testified.
Asheim worked as director of maritime operations for Frontline, the large tanker operation controlled by shipping tycoon John Fredriksen. “It’s absurd that (our father) would have taken his own life,” his daughter testified. “He had so many plans.” Prosecutors believe his wife drugged him, placed him in her BMW and then set the car on fire. Police have found traces of various drugs in the couple’s home in Lier and the woman is known to have bought a gasoline cannister and filled it with diesel. Traces of diesel were found in the burned-out car, along with drugs in Asheim’s blood.