One of the owners and two top managers of the Selje Hotel have been arrested and charged with aggravated vandalism and fraud after the hotel was struck by a devastating fire last week. On Friday they were ordered held in custody for at least the next four weeks, while police continue to investigate.
The Selje Hotel, located on a scenic beach and long a summer destination for tourists, was closed for the winter when the fire broke out late last week. The wing containing guestrooms was gutted.
Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported that the hotel, built in 1975 and sold by its founders and long-time operators Harald and Gerd Kjellaug Berge just two years ago, had been operating at a loss. Bergens Tidende reported that four days before the fire, local tax authorities had launched legal action to collect nearly NOK 300,000 in unpaid taxes.
Police told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that they already have evidence that the fire was set and that they’ve connected the three men charged to the fire. Their defense attorneys said the men deny the charges. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.