Sleeping jury could lead to manslaughter retrial

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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Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration will need to clear up more than 1,000 trucks worth of stones and rubble it left near the stunning UNESCO world heritage listed Nærøyfjord.

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord
Nærøyfjorden near to where the Norwegian Public Roads Administration left behind more than 11,000 cubic metres of rocks. Photo by Arian Zwegers on Flickr.

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumping are typically associated with rogue tradespeople and cowboy builders, but it’s the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that is being asked to clear some 11,250 cubic metres of rocks it left near a UNESCO listed beauty spot.

The breathtaking Nærøyfjord in Aurland municipality, south-western Norway, is a landscape conservation area meaning its protected and, therefore, the rubble shouldn’t have been left there.

“This is a blister. We will clean up after ourselves,” Stig Berg Thomassen, project manager for the road authority, told NRK.

The rocks were left behind following a project to upgrade the nearby Gudvanga tunnel.

Thomassen said the mess was left in the conservation area because it wasn’t clearly marked as off-limits.

Nærøyfjorden has been listed as a landscape conservation area since 2002, and the site was added to the UNESCO world heritage list a few years later in 2005.

READ ALSO: You can now get married at this famous Norwegian beauty spot

The municipality in Aurland has given the road authority until December 17th to clear the mess. The mayor for the municipality said the road authority would begin to clear up the remnants of its building project as soon as possible.

The stones won’t be going far, though and will only be moved around 50 to 100 metres along the road to where the conservation area ends.

Project manager Thomassen has admitted that the situation could have been avoided with better planning.

“Yes, we should have probably have done that (prepared better). The situation is as it is, so we just have to clean up. It won’t take long to move the rocks. The Stones will only be transported 50 to 100 meters,” he confessed.