Sleeping jury could lead to manslaughter retrial

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17:24 CET+01:00
Norway’s Director of Public Prosecutions is seeking a retrial in the case of a 30-year-old man cleared of manslaughter last month after it emerged that “one or two” jury members had fallen asleep in court.

The defendant was initially found guilty by the district court and sentenced  to 13 years imprisonment for the manslaughter of 70-year-old Sigmund Jensen.

In November, however, the court of appeal cleared him of manslaughter, withdrew the custodial sentence, and instead ordered him to pay compensation to the family of the deceased, newspaper Rana Blad reports.

Prosecutors indicated at the time that they would not take the case any further, but the Director of Public Prosecutions has now ordered prosecution authorities in Nordland to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

“We have noted an observation that one, or possibly two, members of the jury slept through parts of the judge’s jury instructions and during the presentation of evidence. We refer, in addition, to the combination of generally long days in court with bad sound and air quality,” said prosecutor Erik Thronæs.

The 30-year-old’s defence lawyer, Benedict de Vibe, said he was surprised and bemused by the prosecution turnaround.

“This is the most nonsensical thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a lamentable matter, and really not the kind of thing we should have to deal with in our legal system,” said de Vibe.

Prosecutor Thronæs said the case would likely be referred back to the court of appeal for a new hearing if the Supreme Court decided there were sufficient grounds for a retrial. 

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