Suspect in fatal Oslo Pride attack ordered held in pre-trial detention

Zaniar Matapour has refused to be questioned for a third consecutive day.

Norway Shooting
Norway Shooting

The suspect in a deadly shooting ahead of an LGBTQ festival in the Norwegian capital has been ordered held in pre-trial detention for four weeks — two of them in solitary confinement – as he continued to refuse to be questioned.

Zaniar Matapour, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was arrested shortly after Saturday’s pre-dawn shooting in Oslo’s nightlife district and was held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism.

Two people were killed and more than 20 wounded in what the Norwegian security service called an “Islamist terror act”.

Norway Shooting
Police at the site early on Saturday (Javad Parsa/NTB/AP)

Prosecutor Ingvild Myrold told Norwegian media that police on Monday had tried to question Matapour for the third consecutive day, without success.

“We are sticking to this theory,” she told Norway’s daily Dagbladet about whether they were still treating the attack as an act of terrorism.

Matapour has refused to explain his actions to investigators.

His lawyer, John Christian Elden, said his client objects to having his statement recorded and videotaped unless police release the entire recording to the public “with no time delay so it won’t be censored or manipulated”.

Norway Shooting
People lay flowers at the scene in central Oslo (Sergei Grits/AP)

Matapour arrived in Norway with his family from a Kurdish part of Iran in the 1990s, according to Norwegian media.

The gunman opened fire at three locations, including outside the London Pub, a popular gay bar in central Oslo. Police investigators have said it is too early to say whether the attacker targeted the LGBTQ community.

Police on Monday identified the two victims as Kare Arvid Hesvik, born in 1962, and Jon Erik Isachsen, born in 1968.

A Pride parade scheduled for Saturday was cancelled because of the shooting.

In a joint statement on Monday, the head of Norway’s national police, Benedicte Bjornland, and acting security service chief Roger Berg said they would review their response to the shooting, saying “it is very important that… any weaknesses and errors are identified quickly in order to be able to implement measures”.

Norway Shooting
Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere visit the scene (Sergei Grits/AP)

The agency known by its Norwegian acronym PST earlier said it first became aware of the suspect in 2015.

It had talked to the suspect in May because he had shown interest in demonstrations and activities perceived as insulting to Islam. “Our assessment, after talking to the perpetrator, was that he did not have violent intentions,” it said.

PST also said the suspect had a “long history of violence and threats”, as well as mental health issues.

After the attack, PST raised the threat scale from moderate to its highest level, adding the move “implies that there has been a terrorist attack and that there is an unresolved situation. We are continuously assessing the terrorism threat level”.

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