Viggo Kristiansen, who spent nearly 21 years in prison for heinous crimes he did not commit, has launched his first compensation claim against the state. He want NOK 10 million (USD 1 million) by New Year’s Eve.
Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl has publicly apologized to Kristiansen on behalf of the state, expected a large compensation claim and wants him to be paid as quickly as possible. Even his lawyers, though, admit they underestimated how much Kristiansen wants and needs immediately in order to start his life over again.
“We see now that we were a bit modest when we suggested (Kristiansen would seek) NOK 5 million immediately,” defense attorney Bjørn Andre Gulstad told TV2 Monday afternoon. Now they stress how the 43-year-old Kristiansen, currently living back in his parents’ home in Kristiansand, needs a home of his own and can’t get a home loan since he hasn’t yet been able to get a job.
Kristiansen was formally cleared last week of raping and murdering two young girls at the Baneheia recreational area in Kristiansand in May 2000. He was long viewed as Norway’s most hated man while constantly claiming he was innocent. His case was finally taken up again, and new DNA evidence proved he could not have been at the scene of the crime. A former friend who implicated him in the Baneheia case now faces new charges for both rapes and murders.
Kristiansen’s total compensation claim is likely to amount to much more than the NOK 10 million now being sought immediately. He’s widely seen as the victim of the worst travesty of justice in Norwegian history, robbed of the chance of such things as launching a career, buying a home, gaining on investments, setting up a household or raising a family. Compensation calculations are likely to be “complex,” say his attorneys, and he needs advance payments.