State prosecutors went along Monday with an appeal from convicted murderer Viggo Kristiansen to be released from prison until his case for a retrial is heard. The families of two young girls he’s convicted of raping and murdering at Baneheia in Kristiansand 21 years ago immediately asked for police protection.
Kristiansen has claimed all along that he’s innocent of the crime that shocked Norway in May 2000. His friend and alleged accomplice Jan Helge Andersen admitted to the rapes and murders, served his 19-year prison term and already has been released. Kristiansen, meanwhile, was sentenced to Norway’s longest prison term at the time, 21 years, and ordered held in a form of special custody known as forvaring that can keep him in prison much longer.
In February a state commission that reviews highly disputed cases ruled that Kristiansen’s case finally would be reopened and reevaluated but officials determined Kristiansen wouldn’t be released while the process was underway. Kristiansen demanded to be released not only from his special custody but also while a new police investigation tied to the potential retrial is underway.
Newspaper VG and state broadcaster NRK reported Monday that prosecutors now basically support Kristiansen’s appeal. The police investigation is also taking longer than expected and now state prosecutors conclude that their own risk evaluation suggests Kristiansen can no longer be held in custody.
The parents of the murdered girls declined comment but seemed to disagree. Their attorneys quickly asked for the equivalent of a restraining order against Kristiansen, to prevent him from attempting any contact with them.