A 17-year-old refugee from the Northern Caucasus went on trial in Oslo Monday, charged with possession of dangerous explosives after he set off a major bomb scare in Oslo’s Grønland district last spring. The teenager has, however, avoided being hit with terrorism charges.
“He is incredibly glad that he’s not under terror indictment,” his defense attorney, Javeed Shah, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) as his trial began. Shah’s client denies any malicious intent regarding the bomb he was found carrying on the night of April 8. It forced the evacuation of a large area, while a bomb squad carried out a controlled detonation. Norway’s police intelligence unit PST quickly took over the investigation and the teenager has been held in custody since.
Shah noted, however, that his young client who had moved to Oslo from Northern Norway had no “good explanation” as to why he was transporting the explosive device through downtown Oslo on a Saturday night. The incident occurred also just a day after a terrorist from Uzbekistan drove a truck down a busy street in Stockholm, killing five and injuring 15 people.
“He’s very unclear in his statements (regardig his motives),” Shah said. “He’s a 17-year-old boy who has been curious about this and that. Asked what his intention was, it’s difficult for him to answer. I don’t understand myself how he has landed in this situation.”
Shah said his client, who arrived in Norway with his refugee family in 2010, was “stressed and nervous” before the trial began but was looking forward to try to testify “and then put this case behind him.” He was initially charged as a terror suspect, but that was dropped from his indictment, with prosecutor Marit Bakkevig telling newspaper Aftenposten on Monday that he and his actions “weren’t so dangerous as a terror indictment would have required.”
Bakkevig claimed “it’s still a serious indictment,” with prosecutors maintaining they have evidence that can prove he wanted to detonate the bomb, “in a manner capable of presenting danger for others.” Newspaper Aftenposten reported that he faces up to 10 years in prison. The case is due to run until October 13.