Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Oslo shooting is far above the limit of serious terrorism

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The terror case against Zaniar Matapour is coming to an end in the Oslo district court. He could be found guilty of aggravated terrorism, a legal provision punishable by 30 years in prison. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB

Of NTB | 14.05.2024 11:40:19

War and conflicts: The Oslo shooting on 25 June created serious fear – not only in those who were directly affected, but also in other parts of the population, State Attorney Sturla Henriksbø emphasized when he proceeded before the Oslo district court on Tuesday.

– This is what lies at the core of the terrorism provision, he pointed out.

The public prosecutor had then just brought forward witnesses and victims who had stated that they did not dare to be openly gay anymore, and who experienced strong inhibitions in their social life after the mass shooting in the center of Oslo. The actions were premeditated and well thought out – well planned well in advance and had an ideological motive, according to the prosecutor.

– I think we all knew that 25 June 2022 was a day that changed something in us. Something broke around the security we should all be able to feel, said Henriksbø.

The Oslo District Court started its examination of the terror case against Zaniar Matapour on 12 March, and it is scheduled to be heard on Thursday this week. In that case, the defender and legal counsel must also have proceeded before the court.

There was a pride celebration in Oslo, and the following morning the big parade was to go through Oslo’s streets. At the pubs where the mass shooting took place, there were several hundred people celebrating pride.

Matapour fires first with a Luger pistol before firing volleys from an old and worn machine gun. Only when this weapon tickles does the firing stop. By then he had fired 18 shots. A final shot was fired as Matapour was laid to the ground and overpowered by civilians.

Henriksbø was clear already in the introduction to the proceedings: He has no doubt that the terrorism provision in the Criminal Code will be applied, and that Matapour had terrorist intent. The actions and the consequences they suffered are so serious that they are also covered by the stricter provision on serious acts of terrorism.

It is this section that increases the maximum sentence from 21 years’ imprisonment to 30 years’ imprisonment.

– If you look at the overall scope of attempted murders alone, we are far above the limit for a serious act of terrorism. But in our case, two people have been killed and several have had their lives brutally destroyed forever, said Henriksbø.

– London Pub is not just any place. It is a place that markets itself as Norway’s largest homosexual venue. And the action takes place during pride – a time when one could expect that there were many queers in and outside the London Pub and in the area and in the surrounding places, he pointed out.

– I find it difficult to see any other goal than that it was pride and the queer people who were to be targeted, Henriksbø concluded.

It is undisputed that it was Zaniar Matapour who fired 19 shots on the night of 25 June, that he has sworn allegiance to IS and that the recording of the oath of allegiance was sent to a person believed to be an IS leader with the intention that IS would assume take the blame. But Matapour has neither let himself be questioned by the police nor explained himself to the court.

It is therefore unclear what he himself can convey about the motive for the mass shooting. It is quite clear that he denies criminal guilt following the indictment for serious terrorism, but no one has been able to elaborate on what lies behind the denial.

The prosecution rejected, citing, among other things, case law, that Matapour’s actions were triggered by illegal provocation under the auspices of the National Intelligence Service. If the chat between the secret agent and two people linked to the planning was considered provocation, then it was within the limits of what constitutes legal provocation, he argued.

The court has documented that Matapour was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as early as 2004. The diagnosis was confirmed in 2010. But the forensic psychiatric experts have concluded differently about his mental state at the time of the crime:

* Psychologists Knut-Petter Sætre Langlo and Pål Grøndahl believe Matapour’s symptoms cover the diagnoses of paranoid and dyssocial personality disorder. They make it possible for one to recover from a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

* Psychiatry specialist Synne Sørheim maintains Matapour’s diagnosis and is of the opinion that this is a diagnosis from which one does not recover. If the criteria have been met for a period of one month or more, they will be there for life, she believes.

The diagnosis of the psychologists Langlo and Grøndahl may suggest that Matapour was criminally sane on the night of 25 June 2022. Sørheim’s diagnosis, on the other hand, probably means that he must be considered insane at the time of the crime. This means that he cannot be punished if the court agrees.

Two people were killed and nine others were shot when Zaniar Matapour (44) pulled out two firearms from the tennis bag he had bought and started shooting at the pubs Per på Hjørnet and London Pub.

In short, Matapour intended to kill homosexuals in order to create fear in all or part of the population, according to the prosecution.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, the prosecution will come up with its conclusion on whether they believe Matapour was sane at the time of the crime, and if so, how severe a sentence he should be sentenced to.

(© NTB)

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