Norway’s long Pinse (Whitsund) weekend was dominated by news of the latest terrorist attack in London, where many Norwegians study, work and live. In Oslo, meanwhile, a 17-year-old terror suspect remained in custody, with police wanting to keep him there.
The 17-year-old Russian citizen was arrested on April 8, just a day after a terrorist attack in Stockholm, when he was found with an explosive device in one of the Norwegian capital’s most culturally diverse neighboorhood of Grønland. He’s been in custody since, after police and court judges found his explanation to lack credibility.
He admitted he had constructed the explosive device, described by bomb experts as “amateurish,” but claimed he had no intention of setting it off in the crowded area where he was arrested with it. Instead, he told police, he was merely carrying it to an isolated area where he intended to test it and see if it would go off.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that suspicions against the teenager, who came to Norway as a refugee with his family from Chechnya seven years ago, were sharpened at his last custody hearing. The Oslo City Court (Oslo Tingrett) now also agrees with police that he should remain in custody after new information has surfaced regarding his religious attitudes. Aftenposten reported they further weaken the credibility of his earlier testimony.
The court thus intends to keep him in jail for at least another two weeks, while the police investigation continues. The court custody ruling was based on the danger that he’ll be a repeat offender.
The discovery of the teenager with the explosive device set off a major bomb scare in downtown Oslo, forcing police to cordon off a large area and order evacuations. The device was later detonated by a bomb squad.
He’s being held on terrorism charges and risks a lengthy prison sentence if found guilty. His defense attorney, Kirsten Sigmond, stressed that the explosive device was not designed to cause major damage and she regretted that her client must remain in prison.