After months of silence, a 59-year-old Norwegian man charged with murdering his Thai wife and her 12-year-old son began testifying publicly in court this week. He has admitted shooting both of them before turning his rifle on himself, but claims he wasn’t simply distraught over a looming divorce.
The case has attracted widespread press covering in Norway, as an example of how foreign wives in Norway can be exploited by their Norwegian husbands. The murder defendant, whose identity hasn’t been made public in accordance with Norwegian press practice, offered another version in the Øst-Finnmark courthouse in Northern Norway when his trial began on Monday.
He felt exploited himself
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that he claimed he was the one who wanted a divorce, after a three-and-a-half-year marriage that he claims was characterized by frequent quarrels over money. He had begun to feel taken advantage of, economically. “I was irritated that she wouldn’t help out with our household bills,” he testified. “I’ve come to believe that she exploited me. That’s why I asked her to move.”
He testified that her long hours of working in a local gas station in Kirkenes had enabled her to set aside savings that he thinks amounted to several hundred-thousand kroner. “When I asked if she could contribute some of that to the household, she said she was saving to buy a house for us in Thailand,” he said in court.
Norwegian Broadcating (NRK) reported from the courtroom that he also testified that she demanded money for having sex with him. He allegedly complied, but he also admitted, when confronted with evidence of his online activity, that he had threatened to distribute naked videos of his wife to their friends and acquaintances. He denied, however, that he’d been clicking in to a website with a discussion forum about “killing your Thai wife.”
He also testified that he was both “angry and disappointed” when he found items he had inherited from his mother among the things his Thai wife had packed up in advance of moving out. “Those were my things, not hers,” he said.
Intended ‘to scare her’
He testified that he then went down to the cellar of their home in Kirkenes, retrieved his rifle and loaded it. “My thought was to scare her,” he testified, “not to kill. I didn’t have any thoughts about killing myself either.”
Yet he went upstairs and into his stepson’s room, where his wife was also sleeping. The couple had fought the night before. “She’d called me a pig,” he testified. From that point, he claims he has no memory of shooting either her, her son or himself.
“That was not the intention,” he testified before leaving the courtroom. “I didn’t have any desire to die myself either.” He had denied being guilty on pre-meditated murder.
His trial is due to run through the week and is being closely watched as the latest example of extreme domestic violence in Norway. His wife, Pimsiri Songngam, was killed instantly in the shootings last August, while her son was later declared dead at the hospital in Kirkenes. A forensic expert testified that no other signs of physical violence were found on Songngam’s body.