A court in Oslo ruled on Monday that it’s legally permissible for police to forcibly relocate radical Islamic cleric Mullah Krekar to a small village far from the Norwegian capital, pending his long-sought deportation. The government, meanwhile, reportedly is trying to send Krekar to Italy.
The Oslo court (Oslo Tingrett) spent a full week deliberating what amounts to a public banishment of Krekar after he was released from prison on January 25. Norwegian authorities want to contain Krekar and prevent him from influencing Muslims vulnerable to be radicalized, and it’s the first time they’ve resorted to such a move.
Its legality was immediately put to the test by Krekar’s defense attorney Brynjar Meling, who claims that forcibly moving Krekar to an asylum center in the small village of Kyrksæterøra in Trøndelag violates his human rights. Law professors have also questioned the legality of trying to confine someone who has finished serving a prison term. The police’s relocation order sending Krekar to Kyrksæterøra came after instructions from Justice Minister Anders Anundsen, on the grounds that Krekar has been declared a threat to national security.
Professor Mads Andenæs is among those suggesting that the relocation order defies court precedent in Norway, the Norwegian Constitution and human rights. Andenæs told newspaper Dagsavisen over the weekend that he thought it was “reassuring” that the court used extra time to evaluate its legality.
Judge cites national interests at stake
On Monday Judge Oddmund Svarteberg ruled that the order was indeed legal and that police were within their rights to relocate Krekar. “The court finds there is no basis to reverse the Oslo’s Police District’s order,” he wrote in the verdict from Oslo City Court. The court ruled that national interests must take precedence over Krekar’s family life in this case.
Krekar’s attorney launched an immediate appeal. “What I’m most disappointed about is the drafting of Krekar’s fundamental rights,” Meling told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He wishes it had been more comprehensive in the court ruling.
The court did not take a position on whether Krekar, who could return to his home in Oslo pending Monday’s ruling, can now actually be sent to Kyrksæterøra. Meling said that will be decided in connection with the terms of his appeal.
Victory for the authorities
The ruling was a clear victory for both the police and the justice ministry, which continues to try to send Krekar out of Norway. Krekar was granted asylum in Norway more than 20 years ago but later went on to lead what’s been classified as a terrorist organization, Ansar al-Islam, and traveled back to Iraq to lead guerrilla warfare. Efforts by three Norwegian governments to send Krekar back to Iraq have been stymied by their failure to secure assurances that Krekar would not be tortured or executed back in Iraq. Even though Krekar has bashed Norwegian law and society, much preferring his interpretation of Islamic law, he has relied on Norway’s legal system to protect him and fought all efforts to deport him.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Monday that the current government has been secretly working on a plan to send Krekar to Italy, where authorities have expressed interest in questioning him about an alleged network used to recruit jihadists in Italy, Germany, Norway and Spain. Krekar has denied any such recruitment and Meling claimed he would legally fight any move to send Krekar to Italy as well.