Thursday, May 30, 2024

Bhatti detained for four weeks – will not explain himself in court

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Arfan Bhatti will not testify in court, says John Christian Elden. Photo: Frederik Ringnes / NTB

Of NTB | 05/04/2024 15:44:46

Crime and justice: Arfan Bhatti, accused of terrorism, opposed the police’s demand for custody, but was imprisoned for four weeks on Saturday afternoon. The Oslo District Court clearly states that there are good reasons to suspect that he played a role in connection with the mass shooting carried out by Zaniar Matapour in Oslo on 25 June 2022.

– The central question is whether the accused Bhatti can be linked to Matapour’s actions in such a way that it is likely that he contributed to the above-mentioned actions, writes the judge in the ruling.

– Norway was not the accused when the actions were carried out. However, the court believes that there is a preponderance of probability that he has contributed psychologically in advance, by strengthening Matapour’s intent, the court writes further.

The Court refers to the extensive intelligence material that has become known from the investigation of the case.

The district court concludes that Bhatti must spend four weeks in custody, with a ban on letters and visits during the entire period. He is, however, allowed to receive visits from his children.

– The result from the court is as expected. The court has established that there is a risk of tampering with evidence and a risk of evasion, says Myrold ​​to NTB.

The detention meeting in Oslo District Court on Saturday was conducted as so-called office business, that is through a written hearing where the parties had submitted their arguments.

– He has opposed this. He has denied that he has anything to do with this shooting incident and believes otherwise that there is no basis for imprisonment, says defense attorney John Christian Elden to NTB.

The 46-year-old has been imprisoned in Pakistan for the past year and a half, where there have been countless court hearings to have him extradited to Norway.

On Friday evening, he landed at the military section at Oslo Airport Gardermoen and was transported to Kongsvinger prison.

The prosecution will have Bhatti as a witness in the ongoing trial against Matapour on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, according to the Oslo police. Bhatti will not explain himself there, according to the lawyer.

– He will not give any testimony in court. The court has been notified of this in advance, says Elden.

The prosecution would like to see that Bhatti nevertheless appears in the Oslo district court.

– In all criminal cases, we want to shed light on the criminal issue to the greatest extent possible. Bhatti could shed light on Matapour as a human being, and it could have been useful for the court to hear his testimony, says Myrold.

The penalty for psychological involvement is the same as for the main crime, 30 years in prison.

– Now Bhatti is only accused, he is not indicted, not accused. The police say that a long investigation remains before they can possibly decide whether to charge him, says Elden.

– The extradition of Bhatti was very important because we can then aim to complete the investigation into the shooting on 25 June. At the same time, it is difficult now to say how long it will take, says Myrold.

It was police prosecutor Ingvild Myrold ​​who petitioned for Bhatti to be imprisoned.

Bhatti himself had previously opposed remand. On Friday, he was suddenly and unexpectedly taken out of the prison where he was in Pakistan and put on a plane to Norway after the issue of extradition was suddenly resolved.

Bhatti is charged with complicity in the terrorist shooting in Oslo on 25 June 2022, where two people were shot and killed when terrorist suspect Zaniar Matapour opened fire on the pubs Per på Hjørnet and London Pub.

– We believe that there is no reasonable reason for suspicion, i.e. that there is a preponderance of probability that he has some form of criminal involvement in this case. It is clear that he was in Pakistan on 25 June when this shooting incident took place, so that the issue of prior psychological complicity is the topic, says Elden.

According to Myrold, the police are now aiming to complete the investigation against all four who have been charged with complicity in Matapour’s attack. She will not estimate when a possible trial against Bhatti and the other three may start.

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