The owner and manager of the Selje Hotel near Norway’s West Cape has admitted to setting the property ablaze, apparently in the hopes of cashing in on insurance. Police describe his arson method as “relatively advanced” and believe his two brothers were involved.
All three men have been jailed and charged with arson and insurance fraud. They faced around NOK 16 million in debt on the hotel, which has been popular in the summer but was closed when it was destroyed by the fire in November.
Prosecutor Magnus Engh Juel told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the defendant’s alleged plan was to burn the entire complex down to the ground and hide any signs of the arson. Engh noted that the fire broke out while the three men were all in Sweden, but he claimed they had taken measures to get the fire to start and spread through the hotel. He wouldn’t go into detail about what those measures were.
Police claimed to have DNA, fingerprints, telephone data, and other “strong evidence” against the man who has now confessed. His two brothers deny having anything to do with the fire.
The owner and manager who confessed has also confirmed that he’d taken money out of the hotel’s accounts to pay for other things not tied to the hotel operation. His defense attorney claims that was “unfortunate” but not illegal.
Prosecutor Juel said he hoped the case would come to trial in August. The hotel owner faces a prison term of up to 15 years.