‘Family conflict’ disputed as motive in lawyer’s murder

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UPDATED: Close colleagues and the live-in partner of high-profile attorney Tor Kjærvik say they can’t understand claims that a long-standing family conflict was behind Kjærvik’s murder Monday night. Kjærvik’s 36-year-old son has now been charged with both his father’s murder and the attempted murder of Kjærvik’s long-term live-in partner.

Prominent defense attorney Tor Kjærvik was often in the news in connection with major crimes in Norway. His murder Monday night has received widespread media attention in Norway. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

The son’s own defense attorney, John Christian Elden, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday that Kjærvik’s murder was the “tragic result” of a “conflict over time, a family conflict.” Elden called Kjærvik “a good and respected” colleague in the field of law.

Elden is one of Norway’s most well-known defense attorneys and has worked on cases with Kjærvik in the past, including the NOKAS robbery case. He added that “there’s nothing that indicates this has anything to do with (Kjærvik’s) law practice. Everthing indicates this was a pure family conflict.”

“This is a difficult case,” he told NRK, “but that doesn’t mean that the person charged shouldn’t be defended.”

Shots and screams
Neighbours who witnessed what ranked as the first murder in Norway so far this year have reported seeing Kjærvik arrive at his relatively modest home at Røa in Oslo shortly after 8pm Monday, then hearing a series of shots (police now confirm seven shots were fired) and then screams from Kjærvik’s home just before 9pm Monday. One neighbour told NRK that a woman then ran over the yard in front of the home in the row-house- and multi-family housing complex, followed by a person waving what appeared to be a gun.

That’s apparently why charges against Kjærvik’s son, who Elden stressed had called police himself, were expanded to include attempted murder of Kjærvik’s partner. She’s being represented by attorney Ellen Holager Andenæs, who told TV2 that her client is “deeply plagued” by having seen Kjærvik’s own son shoot and kill the man who was his father and with whom she had lived for more than 20 years.

“I can say that came to the highest degree as a surprise, like lightning from a clear sky,” Andenæs told TV2. “She hadn’t thought she had a bad relationship with the defendant. No one had believed this could happen.”

Ordered held in custody
NRK reported Wednesday evening that Kjærvik’s son seemed to be a loner and apparently had been out of work for many years. Crime commentator Olav Rønneberg said it was difficult to find much if any information about him, noting that he was not active on social media and there’s little sign of him in public records. He’d moved out of Oslo, and police ransacked his home in Kongsberg Tuesday morning.

Benedict de Vibe, who shared offices with the 70-year-old Kjærvik near the Oslo County Courthouse, was also surprised by Elden’s claim that the murder was the result of a long-term family conflict. De Vibe, who worked closely with Kjærvik for many years, said he wasn’t aware of any conflict between father and son, adding that the police investigation should reveal the motive for the murder.

On Wednesday afternoon the 36-year-old defendant was ordered held in custody and mostly in isolation for at least the next four weeks, while police continue their investigation. The court stressed that it was important he not be allowed to influence others tied to the case until the police had a chance to question all involved, especially Kjærvik’s partner. The court warned in its custody decision that the defendant faces a lengthy prison term.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund