Norway killer detained for four weeks as mental health questioned

The man who killed five people in the town of Kongsberg in southern Norway has been remanded in custody for four weeks by a court order issued on Friday.

Oslo, 15 October 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The man who killed five people in the town of Kongsberg in southern Norway has been remanded in custody for four weeks by a court order issued on Friday.

The suspect is to spend the first two weeks of his detention in isolation, and the court has imposed a ban on visits, media contact and letter writing.

The 37-year-old will not spend his pre-trial detention in a prison, but in a closed medical facility due to the suspected condition of his mental health, a police spokesperson said on Friday.

The suspect has admitted to attacking several people with a bow and arrow, along with other weapons, in Kongsberg on Wednesday night.

It is considered likely that the man is mentally ill. “Our hypothesis is that there is background of illness,” police inspector Thomas Omholt said.

At least two legal psychiatrists are now to assess whether the man is sane.

The security service of the Norwegian police initially investigated the crime as an act of terrorism, but later changed tack as doubts arose about the man’s sanity. However, this will be re-evaluated as investigations go on.

The attacker’s lawyer had earlier said that his client was to be given a psychiatric examination due to doubts about his sanity. The Norwegian police also confirmed that the suspect was known to have frequently sought medical help prior to the attacks.

People close to the suspect told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the Dane had long suffered from mental problems and had been an outsider since he was a teenager.

There were also indications that the man had converted to an extreme form of Islam and held radical views.

“The act seems like an act of terrorism, but we do not know the motives of the perpetrator,” the head of the Norwegian police security service, Hans Sverre Sjovold, said on Thursday.

The new Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store and the minister of justice were expected in Kongsberg on Friday afternoon, where investigations into the exact sequence of events are continuing.

Local residents have been deeply affected by the attacks. Hundreds of candles and flowers have been placed around the town centre. Mayor Kari Anne Sand spoke of a tragic act that the community would carry with them for many years.

So far it has been established that police officers first encountered the perpetrator in a supermarket. The officers were shot at with arrows and were unable to get into a position from which they could return fire, according to a police spokesperson. While the officers went to get body armour, the offender managed to escape.

The attacker then ran through the city centre shooting at people before forcing his way into various apartments, where he also killed people. Police suspect that all five victims were killed after the man first encountered police.

Prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told TV2 there was no evidence that the man had planned the crime. “There is also nothing to suggest that there was a situation in the shop that triggered this.”

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