A 59-year-old man in Kirkenes, Northern Norway was sentenced Thursday to 21 years in prison, the country’s maximum term, for shooting his wife and her young son at close range where they had been sleeping. He appealed the conviction on the spot.
The court ruled that the 12-year-old boy from Thailand was shot first in front of his mother’s eyes, and that she screamed for at least 10 minutes until she was shot in the forehead and died instantly. Her son lived for a short while but was declared dead at the local hospital.
“It’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill them,” said the presiding judge, Sorenskriver Steinar Langholm, while he read aloud the main points in his verdict. The murder defendant, who then shot himself, had testified he only meant to scare them in the midst of a bitter divorce.
The case has attracted national attention as an example of extreme domestic violence that also points up problems in immigration law. It can basically force foreign spouses to remain in troubled marriages for up to three years, when they finally become eligible for permanent residence in Norway. The defendant’s wife in this case had just qualified for permanent residence and was moving into a crisis center with her son, because she could then stay in Norway on her own. She had held out, she claimed, under “psychic violence” allegedly inflicted upon her by her much older Norwegian husband.
While he admitted to the shootings, he maintained he had no memory of them but delivered his own version of their troubled marriage and claimed he had not reacted to her moving out. Rather, he contended he had thrown her out and was merely angry that she was taking some of his things with her. His defense attorney claimed he qualifies for a shorter sentence because he confessed and related many details of their life together.