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Baneheia killer appeals new conviction

UPDATED: A Norwegian man who was convicted for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl at Baneheia in Kristiansand in 2000 was convicted again on Tuesday for the rape and murder of her 10-year-old companion at the same time. On Friday he filed an appeal, meaning that the nightmare for the girls’ parents isn’t over yet.

This scenic and popular area at Baneheia in Kristiansand was the scene of a double rape and murder of two young girls in May 2000. The crimes have haunted Norway ever since, and retrials have now resulted in a new conviction that many hoped would finally settle the case. PHOTO: NewsinEnglish.no/Morten Møst

The so-called “Baneheia Murders” stunned the nation 24 years ago, and have been an ongoing nightmare for both girls’ families. Earlier this week, a court in Southern Rogaland claimed there is no doubt Jan Helge Andersen, now age 43, acted alone in both fatal assaults.

Andersen had admitted to the rape and murder of eight-year-old Stine Sofie Sørstrønen, but he claimed a former friend, Viggo Kristiansen, had forced him into the crime. He has testified that the two then-young men had run into Sørstrønen and her friend Lena Sløgedal Paulsen after they’d been swimming in a lake at Baneheia, a popular recreation area in the hills above Kristiansand.

Kristiansen was ultimately convicted of raping and murdering Sørstrønen’s best friend, the 10-year-old Paulsen, and served a longer prison term than Andersen for his alleged crime. Kristiansen had all along denied having anything to do with the murders and new DNA evidence ultimately cleared him, in what’s now considered one of the most serious travesties of justice in Norwegian history.

Andersen spent 19 years in jail himself for the rape and murder of Sørstrønen in Kristiansand in 2000. He faced only two more years in prison after being convicted of also raping and murdering Paulsen, because the maximum jail term at the time was only 21 years and Norway doesn’t recognize multiple counts.

On Friday, however, his defense lawyer Svein Holden confirmed that Andersen had decided to appeal his latest conviction. Holden declined any further comment, but the appeal means the case will drag on, at least until the appeals court known as Lagmannsretten decides whether to take it up.

Audun Beckstrøm, the court-appointed attorney representing the two girls’ parents, noted that all convicts have the right to appeal. “Given his own version of events, Andersen claims the verdict in the case is wrong,” Beckstrøm told state broadcaster NRK on Friday. “He keeps claiming that Viggo Kristiansen was with him all the way, so this appeal isn’t so surprising.”

Beckstrøm added, though, that “this will mean even more strain for the parents,” and that he’d have another meeting with them to prepare them for what lies ahead now.

‘Wounds that don’t grow’
The judge in the latest case against Andersen had also ordered Andersen to pay NOK 650,000 (around USD 65,000) in compensation to each of the girls’ sets of parents. Judge Tor Christian Carlsen noted how murders of children are always traumatic for their parents. “They cause wounds to the soul that don’t grow,” the judge said in court.

NRK had reported from the courtroom that Andersen sat calmly and looked directly at the judge when his new conviction was read aloud. His defense lawyers said Andersen was “disappointed” by the court verdict and it was expected that he would consider an appeal.

Others, not least the girls’ parents, had hoped the case may finally be over, 24 years after losing their children.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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