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Oslo court’s terror verdict ‘historic’

An Islamic gunman who killed two people and wounded or traumatized hundreds of others during Oslo Pride celebrations in 2022 has unwittingly set a new record for punishment in Norway. Zaniar Matapour was sentenced to 30 years in prison and may remain in custody for the rest of his life, after becoming the first person to be convicted under new and harsher terms for terrorism.

The recent trial of the Islamic terrorist who opened fire against Oslo Pride celebrants took place here at Oslo Tinghuset, the county courthouse. Its judges ended up issuing Norway’s longest prison term ever, which is likely to be appealed. PHOTO: Tingretten

Matapour was immediately branded as a terrorist, after he went on a shooting rampage in downtown Oslo and, according to prosecutors, “tried to kill homosexuals to create fear in all or parts of the gay community.” He fired 18 times at random victims out partying during Oslo Pride, until outraged passersby wrestled him to the ground and held him there until police arrived.

Matapour was charged under the terms of a new anti-terror law that took effect after another ultra right-wing Norwegian terrorist had killed 77 people during an attack on the government and young Labour Party members on July 22, 2011. Since Norway has no system for charging assailants with multiple counts of murder, the July 22 terrorist was sentenced to only 21 years in prison, which was the longest term at the time.

That was later increased to 30 years, and both terrorists may end up in prison for life because of a Norwegian legality known as forvaring. That means any probation or release from prison must be reassessed by a judge, and if the judge isn’t convinced of rehabilitation, the convict can be kept in custody indefinitely, or at least until being eligible for a new court assessment.

Terror defendant Zaniar Matapour scowled during most of his trial last spring. He has refused to answer questions and is believed to have acted in cooperation with another Norwegian Islamic defendant, Arfan Bhatti, who faces a new trial of his own. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

In both cases, there was no question that both terrorists were guilty of their crimes. Their trials revolved mostly around their mental state at the time, and whether they were of sound mind when carrying out their attacks. Both were determined to be sane, with Matapour now being sentenced to 30 years for killing two people, while the July 22 terrorist got 21 years after killing 77 people.

His defense attorney Marius Dietrichson has advised his client to appeal his “historically” long prison term. Matapour was also orderd to pay a total of NOK 112 million in compensation to the 312 people who’ve been classified as his victims. Since he lacks the means of making such payments, though, Norwegian taxpayers will end up paying it out.

Even though his sentence may be viewed as lenient when compared to prison terms in other countries, most all of Matapour’s victims and their lawyers viewed it as fair. “This is an acknowledgment of the extreme trauma to which the victims were subjected during the terrorist’s attacks,” said Christian Lundin, who represents 232 of the 312 victims. He also added that all aspects of the case regarding provocation, the defendant’s mental state, the jail term and compensation were “handled in an extremely thorough manner.”

Prosecutors were also pleased that Matapour received the country’s harshest punishment, noting that it was in line with what they’d requested. They also prevailed with their request that Matapour must serve fully two-thirds of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. That means he stands to be locked up for 20 years before a new judge assesses his case.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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