Iranian-born Norwegian man gets 30 years for Oslo Pride shootings

Zaniar Matapour convicted on ‘terrorism’ and murder charges after attack that killed two people and wounded nine.

Zaniar Matapour
Zaniar Matapour was convicted of an 'aggravated act of terrorism' and murder after he opened fire in three places in central Oslo in 2022 [File: Handout/Lise Aserud via Reuters]

A court in Oslo has found an Iranian-born Norwegian man guilty of an attack during Pride celebrations in the Norwegian capital in 2022 and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

Two people were killed and nine were seriously wounded in the centre of Oslo, on June 25, 2022, in the shootings at three locations, including the London Pub, a hub of the local LGBTQ scene.

The Oslo District Court said on Thursday that Zaniar Matapour, 45, fired 10 rounds with a machinegun and eight shots with a handgun into the crowd.

“The attack undoubtedly targeted gay people,” the court said in its verdict. “The goal was both to kill as many gay people as possible and to instill fear in LGBTQ people more broadly.”

Prosecutors said Matapour, who police said has a history of mental illness, had sworn allegiance to the ISIS (ISIL) group.

He stood trial on charges of committing an “aggravated act of terrorism” and murder. His 30-year sentence was the highest penalty in Norway since terrorism legislation was changed in 2015.

During the trial, both the prosecution and the defence agreed that Matapour had shot into a crowd and there was no disagreement that the shooting was “terror-motivated”.

His prison term could be extended indefinitely if he is deemed to continue to pose a threat to society, according to Norwegian media reports.

However, Matapour’s lawyer, Marius Dietrichson, had sought an acquittal, saying his client had been provoked to carry out the attack by a Danish intelligence agent who was pretending to be a high-ranking member of ISIL.

The shooting shocked Norway, which has a relatively low crime rate but has experienced so-called lone wolf attacks in recent decades.

“This is a big relief,” the head of the support group for survivors and victims’ relatives, Espen Evjenth, told public broadcaster NRK.

The verdict comes days after the annual Oslo Pride Parade, which paid tribute to the victims of the shooting. An estimated 70,000 revellers marched in this year’s event.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies