Norway: Mosque violence update

The five suspects remanded in custody in connection with a violent attack on an Oslo mosque have been released after police admitted to a lack of cell space.

But one of the defense lawyers, Øyvind Bergøy Pedersen said he believed there were other reasons for the decision.

"The investigation probably has given the police a better overview of the case. The defense lawyers have always pointed out that in this conflict, which ended in a confrontation, there are two factions in this religious community. It is one side's word against the other's," Pedersen said.
With this in mind, he believes police had to weigh up the danger of tampering with evidence after release, and the jail conditions on offer.

The suspects have a different version of events, claiming one of them had been dragged into the mosque and attacked and that several of the others charged in to help him. Three of those in custody appeared in court with clear injuries resulting from stab wounds and blows.

Meanwhile, government officials are considering withdrawing state support for the mosque in question.

The County Governor's office told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) that if the mosque's board is linked to illegal activities it could cost the organization its support.

Last year the congregation of about 5,000 received NOK 1.4 million (USD 211,000) in state support.

The Norwegian state extends financial support to religious institutions and generally withdraws such aid only in the case of demonstrated abuses of human rights.

Source: Aftenposten 1, 2 (English)

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