Man pleads not guilty to terror charges as trial for mass shooting at Oslo LGBTQ+ bar begins

A 44-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to terror charges at the beginning of a trial relating to a deadly shooting in Oslo, Norway.

Two men, aged 54 and 60, were killed and a number of others injured when a gunman opened fire outside city centre bars in Oslo, including the popular LGBTQ+ nightclub, The London Pub, during Pride celebrations on 25 June 2022. 

Zaniar Matapour was arrested on the same day, and later charged with aggravated terrorism

Prosecutor Sturla Henriksbø alleged that Matapour fired 10 rounds with a machine gun and eight from a handgun, before being detained by bystanders, Associated Press reported.

Within three minutes of the gunfire being reported at 1.14am, OPS Politiet Oslo officers had apprehended Matapour.

Henriksbø said Matapour, a Norwegian citizen who was born in Iran, had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group before the attack. 

Flowers line a street in Oslo where the shooting took place in June 2022. (Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

If found guilty, Matapour could face 30 years in jail. However, should it be decided that he lacks culpability on the grounds of mental illness, he could be sent to a secure psychiatric facility. Prosecutors said the court will have to decide whether he was sane at the time of the shooting.

Several months before the trial began, Matapour was assessed as being legally responsible for his actions, but one of three experts concluded that he was not.

Questions were raised over his culpability because he had reportedly been in trouble with police while he was a teenager, and had received psychiatric treatment at the time.

Since his arrest, Matapour has reportedly refused to answer police questions and is not expected to speak in his defence during the trial. According to the BBC, when asked to enter a plea, he shook his head and went on to ask why the trial was taking place during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. He complained that the court did not sit during Easter.

A three-minute police video was shown as the trial began, showing CCTV footage of how the attack unfolded.

Three closed-circuit cameras followed the movements of the gunman, dressed in a yellow t-shirt and a cap, as he walked past first the Per pa Hjornet bar and the London Pub. He then opened fire on people sitting at tables outside, the BBC reported.

The trial continues and is expected to run until May.

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