In December 2013 an African Asylum Seeker being held in Oslo Prison who had previously complained of a painful scar on his lower abdomen was called by a prison nurse to be weighed in what was supposed to be a normal and decent medical examination. During the examination and according to the indictment the nurse “held a hand over the victim’s penis and while the victim got an erection, he took the victim’s penis in his mouth”. The victim (who it is claimed was hysterical) complained to prison staff and contacted his lawyer. This instigated a process in which police attended the prison and took DNA evidence from the victim.
During interrogations by the police, the nurse denied any accusations of the event or wrong-doing. Later DNA results conclusively showed this was not the case. A source inside Oslo prison told Circus Bazaar that the nurse continued in his capacity and position until “April 2014” at which time he was removed from employment. The nurse faced trial Monday for charges under Norwegian law that prevent acquiring sexual intercourse by abuse of position, dependency or trust.
Male victim sexual assault is a highly stigmatised topic. In studies of male rape, some research suggest that less than 1 in every 10 are reported. Compounding this is the vulnerability of being an ethnic minority, his asylum status, physical pain and the obvious mental health issues surrounding incarceration. During the trial, the nurse described how he believed at the time that the man “had a beautiful penis” and spoke openly about his homosexuality yet gave views on the situation that conflicted with the prosecution.
In contrast, the aggrieved who firmly expresses his heterosexuality described issues related to a new found lack of trust in fellow men and his naivety towards homosexuality within his own culture. Some African Nations have inhumane laws regarding homosexual behaviour including life imprisonment. Workers appeared as witnesses from Oslo Prison in which one remarked the victims appeared “almost in tears” in the immediate aftermath. Police prosecutors asked the judges for 1 year and 10 months imprisonment.
The Nurse was due to receive his Judgement Tuesday. Yet after the trial the defences Attorney Rolf Jacob Cappelen made a formal complaint to the courts via email regarding the sleeping. After admitting that this was the case a decision was made by the courts that a complete retrial will now have to be conducted. Circus Bazaar spoke to the defence attorney Rolf Jacob Cappelen, “She fell asleep during the statements. This is just too much and not good for anyone involved.” Vibeke Knapstad who sits on the prosecution side also confirmed to Circus Bazaar that “there would be a retrial.”
In a statement provided to Circus Bazaar Irene Ramm, the Communications head for the Oslo courts stated, “Shortly after the hearing, the court received a notice concerning one of the lay judges – saying that she nodded off from time to time during the trial. The lay judge confirmed that this might have been true. On this basis, the court decided to reschedule the case, most probably early next year. Such incidences happen very seldom. It is important that all judges are able to follow the whole trial closely. This is of vital importance for the legal rights and protection of the parties involved.”
In July 2014 a UK judge was investigated after he was accused of falling asleep during a child rape trial at Manchester Crown Court, forcing it to be abandoned. This caused public outrage with hardly a single major publication in the UK not reporting on it. In Norway’s criminal court, proceedings usually take place before a panel of three judges, one professional and two lay judges and in particularly difficult cases it may be extended to five which two are professional and three are lay. A jury system exist in the next level court of appeals provided the potential sentence is over 6 years.
Controversy has surrounded the Norwegian jury system and there is a powerful political movement to abolish it completely in favour of three professional judges and six lay judges. Norwegian Jurys decisions (even in the case of acquittals) are regularly overturned by Judges who then order a re-trial in the 3rd level courts that are completely absent of the Jury.