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Norway mosque shooter appears at court hearing

A Norwegian man suspected of killing his stepsister and opening fire in a mosque near Oslo in August has appeared in court.

Norway mosque shooter appears at court hearing
Philip Manshaus and his lawyers at a previous court hearing. Photo: AFP

22-year-old Philip Manshaus, who faces terror charges, appeared for a brief court session at which his preliminary detention was extended, Norwegian media including VG reported.

Manshaus was initially remanded in custody in August, suspected of murder and a “terrorist act” that police say he filmed himself committing.

Previous hearings have been conducted behind closed doors, but Monday’s was not, enabling media to attend.

The press is generally not allowed to detail such hearings, but Oslo District Court lifted the ban, allowing statements by the 22-year-old to be made public, VG writes.

He gave the Nazi salute before taking his place next to his lawyers, Audun Beckstrøm and Unni Fries, in the courtroom, according to the newspaper’s report.

The defence lawyers declined to comment on the gesture or Manshaus’ reason for giving it.

He was allowed to read a statement in which he explained why he killed his stepsister and attacked the Al-Noor Mosque near Oslo in August.

He claimed his motive was a desire to protect “his people” and future generations and made reference to a “race-based conflict between different groups”, according to VG’s report of the court meeting.

“He wanted to give reasons for his actions, but I can’t comment on the content (of what he said) due to the ban on discussing the minutes of the session. The press was present and can report if the ban is lifted,” Fries told VG.

Oslo Police District prosecutor Hilde Strand said the content of Manshaus’ statement was not “anything new” for police.

The 22-year-old has admitted killing his 17-year-old step sister Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen, who was found dead in her apartment in Bærum on August 10th.

He also admits attacking the mosque, but denies charges of terror.

He entered the Al-Noor mosque and opened fire before he was overpowered by a 65-year-old man, also on August 10th.

Just three worshippers were in the mosque at the time, and there were no serious injuries.

Police have said he has “extreme right views” and “xenophobic positions” and that he had filmed the mosque attack with a camera mounted on a helmet. He had initially denied the accusations.

His custody was extended by four weeks by the district court on Monday.

Police expect to complete their investigations in December and submit formal charges by Christmas.

READ ALSO: Norway mosque shooter 'has admitted the facts': Police

TERRORISM

Kongsberg attacker killed victims with ‘sharp object’

Norwegian police said Monday that the five victims of last week's attack were killed by a "sharp object" used by the suspect, not a bow and arrows.

The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident.
The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen on Flickr.

“At some point he discarded or lost his bow and arrows,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters.

He said that during the attack on Wednesday the suspect killed “five people with a sharp object both in private addresses and in public spaces”.

Police, who had previously said that the suspect Espen Andersen Brathen was armed with a bow and arrows and two other weapons, did not specify the nature of the sharp weapons, adding that they were still interviewing witnesses.

“Everything points to the victims being selected at random,” Omholt said.

According to the police, more than 10 people were also shot at with arrows at the start of the attack, but none were killed with this weapon.

READ MORE: Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

During police questioning, Brathen has confessed to the killings and to wounding three others.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen has announced publicly that he is a convert to Islam and initially police reported that there had been fears of radicalisation.

He is however being kept in a medical facility pending a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Brathen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

“As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” Omholt added.

On Saturday, police announced the identities of the five victims, four women and one man: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.

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