Mazyar Keshvari, a Member of Parliament for the Progress Party who’s already charged with filing fraudulent travel expenses, spent much of the weekend in police custody. He reportedly was arrested after making threats with a handgun.
Newspapers VG and Aftenposten and state broadcaster NRK were all reporting on Monday that Keshvari was arrested on Saturday and held in custody until Sunday. A state prosecutor confirmed to NRK that “a politician was arrested for making threats.”
The prosecutor said police were still “working to chart what happened, but out of consideration to the investigation, we don’t want to go into detail around the foundation for the charges.”
Keshvari’s defense attorney denies guilt in the case, according to both VG and NRK.
VG reported that the alleged threats involved a handgun, and police reportedly seized a weapon in the politician’s home. VG reported that the alleged victim of the threats “had the impression that the defendant was carrying out a form of Russian roulette with a handgun.”
Aftenposten reported that Keshvari spent a 24-hour period in police custody. Police wouldn’t say why they released him on Sunday, apart from noting that “an evaluation was made” and the politician involved was subsequently freed.
Keshvari, who until recently was a member of the Parliament’s own disciplinary committed, went out on paid sick leave last fall after Aftenposten revealed that he had delivered questionable travel expense claims for more than half a million kroner from 2016 to 2018. Nearly NOK 300,000 of the amount was undocumented and Keshvari was found not to have made the trips he claimed he did. The Parliament’s administration thus reported him to police for misusing its program and he was charged with serious fraud that can yield a six-year jail term.
Keshvari then expressed deep regret, claimed he had been through a difficult period in his personal life and promised to repay the money. He returned to work as an MP in December but the Progress Party stripped him of all positions of trust including his seat on the disciplinary committee. As a publicly elected MP, however, he cannot resign or be fired from his role in Parliament.
Aftenposten reported last week that the Parliament still has not received any reimbursement from Keshvari and the police investigation appears mired in paperwork as they go through expense reports, not all of which Keshvari has delivered. “The investigation continues and we’re working to find out what happened,” Police Inspector Ole Rasmus Knudsen told Aftenposten. He warned the investigation “would take time,” and it remained unclear whether police had been able to question Keshvari in January as planned.
Keshvari has also changed defense lawyers three times since last fall, with Bjørn Stordrange now representing him. Stordrange declined comment further, also on his weekend arrest, other than to say his client wouldn’t acknowledge criminal guilt.
Keshvari has been meeting in Parliament for Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, who’s been on leave as an MP since becoming Norway’s finance minister in 2013. Hans Andreas Limi, leader of the Progress Party’s delegation in Parliament, called the charges against Keshvari “extremely serious. We know he has been through a lot the last half-year, and that he has had a tough time. Now the police must be allowed time to do their job.”