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Norway: Oslo terrorism trial for LGBTQ bar shooting begins

March 12, 2024

A 44-year-old man, who had sworn allegiance to the "Islamic State," faces terrorism charges for allegedly killing two people and injuring several more at an Oslo gay bar in 2022.

A memorial with rainbow colors in Oslo
A memorial for the victims of the shooting was part of a spontaneous Pride parade in 2022Image: Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/REUTERS

A trial began on Tuesday in  Norway for a man accused of killing two people, and seriously injuring nine others, at an Oslo nightclub in 2022. 

Prosecutors said 44-year-old Zaniar Matapour fired 10 rounds with a machine gun and eight shots with a handgun into a crowd outside the "London Pub," a popular gay bar. 

Prosecutor Sturla Henriksbo said Tuesday that Matapour fired 10 rounds with a machine gun and eight shots with a handgun into a crowd. He was taken into custody shortly after the attack

The attack took place the night before Oslo's Pride parade, which was subsequently called off. Norway raised its terrorism threat assessment to its highest level after the attack.

A norwegian police officer stands guard in the streets of central Osl
Norway raised its terror alert level after the attack Image: JAVAD PARSA/NTB/AFP

Act of 'Islamist terrorism'

Matapour, who was born in Iran and immigrated to Norway as a child, had sworn allegiance to the so-called "Islamic State," prosecutors said. 

Directly after the attack, officials said they were treating the case as an "act of Islamist terrorism." 

On Tuesday,  Matapour questioned why the trial was being held during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,

Judge Eirik Aass of the Oslo District Court replied, "I have not perceived that there is a conflict in carrying out the case even though it is Ramadan."

Matapour has refused to speak to investigators. If found guilty, he faces 30 years in prison.

The shooting shocked Norway, which has a relatively low crime rate but has experienced so-called lone wolf attacks in recent decades, including one of Europe's worst mass shootings at the hands of a right-wing extremist in 2011. 

ssa/wmr (dpa, AP)