A 17-year-old boy caught with an explosive device in downtown Oslo just before Easter was ordered held in custody for at least another two weeks on Monday. Investigators say their suspicions that he was planning a terrorist attack have been strengthened.
Kathrine Tonstad of state police intelligence unit PST, which took over the investigation, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that important evidence could be destroyed if the 17-year-old were to be released form custody now. “Our investigation is in full swing, but we’re still in an early phase,” Tonstad said.
She added that “our suspicions against him have strengthened during the time the investigation has been underway.” She wouldn’t go into detail but said investigators are especially keen to reveal the teenager’s intentions behind his decision to carry an explosive device into the busy Grønland area of Oslo on the night following a terrorist attack in Stockholm. Police later destroyed the device.
It remained unclear whether the 17-year-old, a Russian citizen whose family came to Norway as refugees when he was 10 years old, would appeal the extension of his incarceration. His defense attorney, Aase Karine Sigmond, told NRK that her client continues to deny he had any criminal intent and that he had no plans to injure anyone.
“I had asked that he be released,” Sigmond said. “I can’t see that there’s any danger of him tampering with evidence. He denies criminal liability, and he has so since his first round of questioning.”
Others including some of his acquaintances in Northern Norway where he grew up claim he started expressing support for the terror group ISIL around two years ago. He denies having anything to do with ISIL.