Handwriting analysis and DNA evidence led police to arrest a man in his 40s on Friday, and charge him with sending a bomb to the eastern police district’s main station in Ski earlier this week. The incident was described as not just an attack on the police but on Norway’s democracy.
The man now held in custody is known for having made threats against both police and local courts on earlier occasions. “We had this person in the searchlight quite early, because he has made threats before,” prosecutor John Skarpeid told state broadcaster NRK late Friday afternoon.
‘Hatred towards the police’
John Christian Elden has been appointed as his defense attorney. “He denies guilt,” Elden told NRK. He said his client will undergo questioning, “but I don’t know what the police have to tie him to this case beyond his hatred towards the police.”
According to Skarpeid, they have quite a bit. Police had already confirmed that the package containing the bomb had been addressed in handwriting to the Øst politidistrikt in Ski. The handwriting was analyzed by experts at state crime unit Kripos, and compared to samples of handwriting from other people who have sent threats to the the police.
The so-called “improvised explosive device” itself was also examined by Kripos at its offices at Brynseng in Oslo. “We got some good technical evidence from Kripos yesterday,” Skarpeid said. “That made it possible to identify the suspect, and we’ve been tracking him down since yesterday, to arrest him.”
The “good technical evidence” included “biological traces” that Skarpeid said have been “central” to the investigation into who sent the bomb. Asked whether the evidence included DNA and fingerprints, Skarpeid responded “correct.”
‘Well-known’ to police
NRK reported that the man is from Romerike in Akershus County, part of the Øst Police District, and is known for having vandalized the police station with tagging. He also tagged the Romerike courthouse and is “well known” to police.
Newspaper VG reported that the man as early as 2008 appeared outside the police station in Lørenskog and threatened to detonate a homemade bomb. It was made up of gas containers, a gas can, a burning candle and flammable powder.
He was committed to a psychiatric institution after that episode before he was released but then held in remand custody. In 2010 he was sentenced to prison for a year, both for threatening the police and for sexual assault on a young girl.
VG reported that the man was arrested at the Skedsmo shopping center in Akershus. His residence will be searched as part of the ongoing investigation. He faces a custody hearing in the Follo courthouse that serves the Ski area on Monday. The charges against him could lead to a prison term of as long as 10 years.