Police in Kristiansand are investigating whether political opponents of an Iranian man living in southern Norway may be involved in his murder last week. The body of Mahmoud Mohammadi, who had been a Kurdish leader and had what police call “political enemies,” was found in his home at Hånes on Friday night.
“We have information that someone may have been working against the deceased,” John Repstad, who’s leading the police investigation, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “We don’t know whether these are people in Norway or abroad, so as a matter of routine we have alerted PST (Poliltiets sikkerhetstjeneste, Norway’s state police intelligence unit).”
Repstad added that the victim, who had become a Norwegian citizen, is said to have been “clear” about his opposition to extremists, “and then you can quickly acquire some enemies.”
Police initially arrested the victim’s wife and a son, and charged them in the murder, but both were later released. Police have been unusually restrained in releasing information about the case or more details of the investigation. Police said earlier this week, though, that they were “continually evaluating” whether to drop charges against the two family members.
“Police are working intensely on this case,” prosecutor Terje K Skaar of the Agder Police District told news bureau NTB earlier this week. “Based on the information we have now, it can be said that the degree of suspicion (towards Mohammadi’s wife and son) has been reduced.”
Mohammadi, age 63, had been a member of a political party in Iran that actively fought against the terror group IS and other extremists, according to Knut Henning Larsen, defense attorney for his son. “I wouldn’t be surprised if (the police) are investigating leads that go in the direction of this murder being politically motivated,” he told NRK.
Ibrahim Talane was a fellow member along with Mohammadi of Kurdistan’s Democratic Party (PDK) and told NRK that he knew the victim well. “Mahmoud had long experience as a politician, and was a man the partly sorely needed because of all the knowledge he had,” Talane told NRK. “His main goal was to fight for freedom for the Kurds.” Talane claimed he was “99 percent certain” that political opponents were behind his murder.
Mohammadi came to Norway as a political refugee and lived with his family in Kristiansand. He had eight children, and their court-appointed legal adviser, lawyer Ivar Sveen, said they were determined to “give him as dignified a funeral as possible.” Both his wife and son have denied the murder charges filed against them.
KRIPOS called in, along with PST
The cause of death remained unclear but NRK reported a preliminary autopsy report didn’t provide much more information than police already had. TV2 reported last weekend that the victim’s body revealed visible wounds. Neighbours reported hearing some pounding noises from the family’s condominium on Thursday and Friday and its blinds were drawn, which they said was unusual.
Larsen, the defense attorney, complained about the lack of information released about the murder and their investigation. “It’s unusual that the police as as quiet as they are,” Larsen told NRK. “They’re probably investigating the theory of a politically motivated murder even more than they’ve indicated.”
Crime technicians from the state investigation unit Kripos were assisting local police at the crime scene, which one police officer described as “difficult” without specifying why. A large area around the victim’s home had been cordoned off.