High court rejects Krekar’s appeal

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Norway’s Supreme Court (Høyesterett) has rejected an appeal from Norway’s most famous and expensive refugee, Mullah Krekar. That clears the way for the Norwegian government to finally extradite the Islamic cleric to Italy where he’s been convicted of leading a terrorist network.

It was here, at a meeting with members of the Foreign Press Association in Oslo, that Mullah Krekar first made death threats against former cabinet minister Erna Solberg. He’s been in and out of court and prison ever since, and now faces extradition to Italy where he’s sentenced to 12 years in prison on terrorism charges. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

It’s likely the justice ministry will move forward with the extradition, since  it would be highly unusual for Norway to reject such a request from an ally with which it has an extradition treaty. Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr of the conservative Progress Party, which has wanted to deport Krekar for years, issued a statement that he had “registered” the Supreme Court’s decision and would “handle the extradition request … in line with other such cases.”

Krekar’s long-standing defense attorney Brynjar Meling, however, isn’t giving up. He claims that the justice ministry and the government itself is not impartial, “since it made campaign promises to get him (Krekar) out of the country.” Meling is already planning a new series of legal appeals.

Meling also told news bureau NTB that he intends to file an appeal to the International Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. “In a normal case we would wait until the ministry finished handling the case,” Meling told NTB,  “but since the government is not impartial, we believe the grounds for an appeal are here now.”

That’s also because if the government grants the extradition and it’s appealed, the matter could be settled by King Harald V at the Council of State. Meling may want to intercede before that happens.

Krekar, otherwise known as Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, remains in custody after being arrested July 15 of last year when an Italian court sentenced him on the terror charges to 12 years in prison. Italian authorities contend that Krekar led a terror network known as Rawti Shax that planned various attacks around Europe.

Krekar has strongly denied the charges but refused to travel to Italy to defend himself there in court. During a court appearance in Oslo in November, when his extradition was first ordered, Krekar claimed the entire case was “a political ploy” aimed at ejecting him from Norway.

He was first granted asylum in Norway in the early 1990s, but later has been in and out of court and prison on charges of violating the terms of his asylum by leading a guerrilla group in his native Iraq, and for making threats against various people in Norway, including Erna Solberg before she became prime minister. He was first arrested and charged for terror-related activity in 2003.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund