Saturday, May 25, 2024

Bhatti on his way to Norway – will testify in the 25 June trial next week

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Arfan Bhatti pictured in 2012. He is now being extradited to Norway after being detained in Pakistan for over a year and a half. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB

Of NTB | 05/03/2024 16:34:36

War and conflicts: – It has been very important for the Norwegian authorities to have Arfan Bhatti extradited from Pakistan, said Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl (Sp) at a press conference on the extradition on Friday morning.

Bhatti (46) 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 nightclubs Per på Hjørnet and London Pub.

The 46-year-old has been imprisoned in Pakistan for a long time, where there have been countless court hearings to have him extradited to Norway. On Friday, the message came that the extradition had gone through, and that Bhatti was on his way to Norway.

– No matter where in the world someone is, they must know that if they contribute to serious acts of terrorism in Norway, the Norwegian authorities will do everything we can to prosecute them and hold the guilty accountable, said the Minister of Justice.

On Friday afternoon, the Oslo police announced that Bhatti will be presented as a witness in the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

She says the extradition is the result of very good cooperation with the Pakistani authorities and thanked everyone who has contributed to Bhatti being extradited, including the Norwegian embassy in Islamabad.

– As he has been charged, it is important that he comes to Norway, Mehl said.

She says that the Pakistani government decided to extradite Bhatti on 15 February.

– Recently, the Islamabad High Court rejected an appeal, which enabled us to effect extradition today.

The 46-year-old will be taken straight to prison when he lands and will be produced for custody on Saturday. The timing is not clear, nor whether he consents to the imprisonment.

Bhatti’s defenders are lawyers John Christian Elden, Farid Bouras and Inger Zadig. The defenders will probably meet him during the day, but there will be no questioning on Friday, according to Myrold.

– There is no room or time for questioning today, she says.

– He then did not want to answer about the charge itself, but answered about other topics. We will see now, in dialogue with the defenders, whether he is willing to be questioned again, says Myrold.

It has not yet been confirmed whether Bhatti will appear physically in court or whether he will explain himself via video link for security reasons.

Bhatti is thus charged with complicity in a serious act of terrorism.

– The police believe that he is one of the people with whom the E-service’s agent has chatted on the messaging service Telegram. We believe that he has spoken in the chat in such a way that he contributed to the action.

– We are not surprised by the unpredictability of the Pakistani legal system, but we had expected that the Norwegian authorities would wait for a legally binding decision before taking action. This action calls into question the respect for the legal process and international legal principles, says Elden.

He says that “a short time ago” they were informed that their client is about to be extradited from Pakistan to Norway.

As soon as Bhatti is in place in Norway, the lawyers will meet him to clarify how he is doing and discuss the plans for the coming days and weeks.

Police attorney Myrold ​​says that the way the extradition took place is common practice in Pakistan.

– As long as there is no decision that he should stay in the country, a stop order, other authorities can pick up the person before the case is finally decided, she says.

– The prosecution wanted him here to inform the case as best as possible, and we who are victims in the case are also interested in that, says leader Espen Evjenth.

– We hope that he will be put in the witness box in the trial against the perpetrator, and that he will later be held accountable for his role in the case, he says.

Evjenth was in a London pub during the terrorist attack and was shot in the head.

– Now that we have succeeded, it may provide more answers to what happened on the terrible night of June 25, 2022. Whether he is guilty is up to the legal system to decide, Mehl said at the press conference.

– The police have known for a long time that Bhatti would arrive in Norway on Friday, says police attorney Ingvild Myrold ​​to NTB.

The police have previously tried to question Bhatti in Pakistan.

Bhatti’s defender John Christian Elden says that the Pakistani authorities have chosen to extradite Bhatti before a legally binding decision is made.

The support group on 25 June says it is good that Bhatti is on his way to Norway.

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