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Doubts hang over the psychiatric condition of the perpetrator of the archery attack, which left five people dead in Norway on Wednesday. Now supported by the health services, his attacks bear the mark of a “terrorist act” according to the Norwegian authorities, but these do not exclude the possibility of mental disorders either.
The man who confessed to being the author of a deadly archery attack on October 13 in Kongsberg in south-eastern Norway has been handed over to health services, announced Friday (October 15th). , Norwegian justice, fueling questions about his mental state.
“He was taken care of by the health services Thursday evening following an assessment of his state of health,” prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told AFP.
Doubts hang over the psychiatric condition, and therefore the criminal responsibility, of Espen Andersen Bråthen, a Dane suspected of Islamist radicalization who admitted to having killed five people and injured three others on Wednesday in Kongsberg, in the south-east of Norway, where he resides.
Bråthen began on Thursday to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, the conclusions of which should take several months.
A judge is due to rule on his pre-trial detention on Friday, without the suspect’s physical presence. Authorities have requested four weeks’ detention, the first two of which are in solitary confinement. In the event of a positive decision, he would not be imprisoned but left under the responsibility of the doctors, said Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen.
While the attacks bear the mark of a “terrorist act”, they claim, the Norwegian authorities do not rule out the possibility of mental disorder either.
“There is no doubt that the act itself suggests, on the surface, that it may be a terrorist act, but it is now important that the investigation move forward and that the motivations of the suspect, “PST security chief Hans Sverre Sjøvold said on Thursday.
“This is a person who has been going back and forth in the health care system for a while,” he said.
Reported in the past for radicalization, Bråthen, a convert to Islam a few years ago, admitted during questioning that he had committed the attack, in particular armed with a bow and arrows.
“Never a smile”
The suspect “is known” to the PST, which is mainly responsible for counterterrorism in Norway, but few details have been provided on this subject.
“There have been fears related to radicalization previously,” said police official Ole Bredrup Saeverud. Those fears dated back to 2020, and before, and had resulted in police follow-up, he said.
According to Norwegian media, Bråthen has been targeted by two court rulings in the past: a ban last year on visiting two close family members after threatening to kill one of them and a robbery and purchase of hashish in 2012.
A video of him from 2017 was also unearthed by several media, where he is seen making a profession of faith in a threatening tone. “I am a messenger. I came with a warning: ‘is this really what you want?’ (…) Be a witness that I am a Muslim “, he declares.
Bråthen, who most likely acted alone according to the police, killed four women and a man, aged between 50 and 70, in several places in Kongsberg, a small town without history of about 25,000 inhabitants, some 80 kilometers to west of Oslo.
On condition of anonymity, a neighbor described him as an unfriendly person with a large build and cropped hair. “Never a smile, no expression on his face,” he told AFP, adding that he had seen him “always alone”.
Several planned Islamist attacks have been foiled in Norway in the past.
But the country has been bereaved by two far-right attacks in the past ten years, including that of July 22, 2011 by Anders Behring Breivik.