A courtroom in Karmøy on Norway’s west coast is packed this week, as a new trial gets underway 27 years after the murder of teenager Birgitte Tengs. Her cousin was wrongly charged, tried, cleared but ordered to pay compensation in the case, until new DNA technology led to the arrest of another man now under indictment.
The Tengs case led to one of the greatest miscarriages of justice ever in Norway, but all claims against Tengs’ cousin were finally lifted last week. He’s now expected to file huge compensation claims himself, while prosecutors go after the new defendant in the case: a 52-year-old man who was an orginal suspect and whose DNA was recently found on the stockings the 17-year-old Tengs was wearing when she was sexually assaulted, murdered and later found dead on a gravel road east of Kopervik on May 6, 1995.
The Norwegian police’s Cold Case group reopened the investigation in 2016 and arrested the defendant last year. He denies guilt but can’t explain how his DNA could have been found on Tengs’ stockings.
Tengs parents were present in the courtroom when the new trial began, and her father testified on Tuesday. He implored the new defendant to tell the truth now, claiming he must finally admit to the murder if he committed it. The defendant refused to look Tengs’ father in the eye.
The trial is expected to continue for the next eight weeks.