COPENHAGEN, Denmark >> A Norwegian citizen originally from Iran was charged Friday with aggravated terrorism for the 2022 deadly shooting ahead of an LGBTQ festival in the nightlife district of the capital, Oslo.
Two people were killed and nine seriously wounded in the shooting at three locations, chiefly outside the London Pub, a popular gay bar, on June 25, 2022.
Prosecutor Sturla Henriksbø said that Zaniar Matapour, 44, fired 10 rounds with a machine gun and eight shots with a handgun into a crowd at a street corner in the nightlife district where there were a total of 560 people. Before that, he took “an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State group.”
“The attack caused great fear,” Henriksbø said. One of the victims was hit by four bullets, while the other one was killed by a single shot.
Matapour was arrested shortly after by bystanders and has has since been held on suspicion of being the shooter. Following the attack, a Pride parade was canceled, with the police saying they could not guarantee security. Matapour has refused to speak to investigators.
Another prosecutor, Aud Kinsarvik Gravås, said four other suspects were linked to the shooting but they have not been charged as the investigation is still ongoing. Two of them are outside Norway. One of those suspected in the case is a leading Norwegian radical Islamist who is in hiding in Pakistan. The whereabouts of the other one was not known.
“We believe that it will take some time before they return to Norway,” she said. “It is important to stress that even if the charge only applies to Matapour, it does not mean that the suspicion against the others in the case has weakened.”
The trial against Matapour who reportedly arrived in Norway with his family from a Kurdish part of Iran in the 1990s, is scheduled to start in March and last for two months. If found guilty, he faces 30 years in prison.
The shooting shocked Norway, which has a relatively low crime rate but has experienced a series of so-called lone wolf attacks in recent decades, including one of the worst mass shootings in Europe. In 2011, a right-wing extremist killed 69 people on the island of Utoya after setting off a bomb in Oslo that left eight dead.
In 2019, another right-wing extremist killed his stepsister and then opened fire in a mosque but was overpowered before anyone there was injured.
Two years later, a Norwegian man armed with knives and a bow and arrow killed five people in a town in the south of the country. The attacker, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was sentenced Friday to compulsory psychiatric care.