Wednesday 10/20/21

Norway orders 21 years of 'preventive detention' for mosque attacker

During the trial, Philip Manshaus made racist, Islamophobic and far-right statements. He said he only regretted he hadn't planned the attack better. He was also convicted of murdering his adopted stepsister.

error suspect Philip Manshaus (C) flashes the Nazi salute during his trial on charges of carrying out the Baerum mosque mass shooting on August 10, 2019. On June 11, 2020, he was found guilty of the shooting and sentenced to 21 years of "preventive detention," with the court saying he should serve at least 14 years. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB scanpix/dpa
Philip Manshaus flashes the Nazi salute during his trial. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB scanpix/dpa.

A Norwegian man has been found guilty of a shooting at a mosque near Oslo last year and sentenced to 21 years of "preventive detention," with a court saying he should serve at least 14 years. 

Philip Manshaus, 22, was also convicted of murdering his adopted stepsister shortly before the August 10 mosque attack, the Asker and Baerum district court said on Thursday.

The sentence could be extended if Manshaus is deemed to be a threat to society.

The court said it took into account statements in which Manshaus said he had no regrets, and would have done it again.

During the trial he made racist, Islamophobic and far-right statements, and said that he had acted in self-defence.

The court rejected the claim of self-defence, and said the mosque attack was the result of a radicalization process and that there were no extenuating circumstances.

Kill as many as possible

"Manshaus has stated that the aim of the mosque attack was to kill as many people as possible and that he regretted not planning it better and that he would do the same again," judge Annika Lindstrom said.

The unanimous ruling was in line with what the prosecution had requested, while Manshaus' lawyer had urged that he should be acquitted because there were doubts about whether he was accountable.

After Lindstrom had finished reading the 40-page ruling, Manshaus was asked whether he accepted the sentence, wanted to appeal immediately or exercise his right to consider an appeal or accept the ruling. 

"I am not guilty, so I cannot accept the ruling. That would be contradictory. I have decided not to appeal," Manshaus said. "It would be a formal recognition of the courts, which I consider an unfortunate signal since the courts do not recognize the formal rights of Europeans."

The judge interjected, saying this meant his remaining option was to take time to consider an appeal or not, a statement with which Manshaus' lawyer, Unni Fries, concurred.

The prosecution was "satisfied" with the ruling, prosecutor Johan Overberg told news agency NTB after the session.

In its ruling, the court said it did not find grounds to question assessments by court-appointed psychiatrists that Manshaus was accountable.

Inspired by Brenton Tarrant

During the trial, Manshaus testified that he was inspired by an Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, who has pleaded guilty to the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.

Police have concluded that Manshaus acted alone. Manshaus was armed with a hunting rifle and a shotgun when he entered the mosque on August 10.

No one was shot or seriously injured at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre mosque, where Manshaus was overpowered after a struggle with two members of the mosque.

Manshaus wore a bullet-proof vest and had a helmet-mounted camera at the time, and had planned to broadcast the attack live on the internet.

The court said the murder of his 17-year-old stepsister, who was adopted from China, was racially motivated and not considered as terrorism. She had been shot four times. Her body was found at his home in Baerum the same day as the mosque attack. 

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