Jury verdict in the Jensen case set aside. Supreme Court next
Ex-Policeman of the Drugs Squad in Oslo, Eirik Jensen, was acquitted for participation in extensive smuggling of cannabis for one and a half hours. The Profesional Judges then asserted that the jury had it wrong.
“I think it really is, to put it simply, to spit on the jury, that which the Court of Appeal has now done,” states a resigned and disappointed Eirik Jensen after the Judges of the Borgarting Court of Appeal has set aside the Jury’s ruling.
The Professional Judges’ decision to set aside the Jury’s partial acquittal of Eirik Jensen was appealed on the spot. Now, the Supreme Court must decide who is right.
The ten Jury members came to the conclusion that the evidence that “Eirik Jensen for years assisted Gjermund Cappelen in large-scale hash smuggling” did not hold water after six days of deliberations,.
The Special Branch for Police Matters has been responsible for gathering said evidence.
The 10 members of the Jury believed that Jensen had been guilty of gross corruption through his contact with Cappelen.
That he was to be convicted of drug imports, they, however, disagreed with.
The final ruling was read out in court, to intense suspense, a bit later. The three Professional Judges, Kristel Heyerdahl, Jørgen Brunsvig and Steingrim Bull retired from court, but the three unanimously concluded that the jury had it wrong one-and-a-half hours later.
“The Court of Appeal finds, without a shadow of a doubt, that the accused is guilty of charge #1,” Heyerdahl asserts and, thereby, sets aside the entire verdict by the Jury.
“The whole case will, therefore, be re-examined by other Judges,” Heyerdahl continues – five months after the Court was called to order for the first time in late August.
A flabergasted Jensen was asked if he understood the decision of the Court.
“Not really, but yes,” he replies.
Thanked the Jury
“This is painful for both Eirik Jensen and those of us who have defended him. I think the judges should have refrained from this,” The profiled Defence Lawyer, John Christian Elden, tells NTB.
Afterwards, when they had discussed the practical aspects of the breach, Heyerdahl thanked the jury for the effort.
I want to thank the Court of Appeal for the extraordinarily large work. We are grateful for what you have done, the lawyer tells a very solemn Jury.
The appeal case of Jensen has been the very last that goes before a Jury. Last year, the entire scheme was discontinued, but cases that remained in the system were still be processed according to that scheme.
Jensen’s defence lawyer, John Christian Elden, appeals the overruling to the Supreme Court on the spot. If he succeeds, the acquittal will be reinstated, and Jensen will be convicted of gross corruption “only”.
If the appeal is rejected, it will probably be a complete consideration by the Court of Appeal, but this time by an extended Court.
“I have very little faith in the legal system. The principle is that you should be judged by your peers. They did that conscientiously. You just have to look at the use of time. That it is disregarded is completely incomprehensible to me, with that principle as the foundation. Then it is obvious that I react,” a clearly bitter Jensen states after the Court session is over.
“It is very surprising that the Judges cannot accept [the verdict of] the jury who has been gathered for six days to consider this thoroughly.”
“There is no probative evidence. The experts have, therefore, based this on an overall assessment,” he elaborates.
Former boss is disappointed with the Judges
The former boss, and supporter, of Eirik Jensen, was at first relieved that the former colleague was found not guilty in contributing to the import of hash, but then the disappointment set in.
“I was disappointed when they set the ruling aside. Now we are back to square one. I can only imagine how Eirik is faring. It must be absolutely terrible,” Øyvind Nordgaren tells ABC Nyheter.
The retired police chief has witnessed both in the District Court and the Court of Appeal. He has stated throughout that it is totally unthinkable that Eirik Jensen is guilty of what he is charged with.
“I spoke to Eirik after I testified during the appeal. He was in high spirits because he felt that they had conveyed several important points,” Nordgaren explains.
He says it has been a burden to him and several other former colleagues of Jensen to follow the case.
“The whole case has been long and arduous. Right now it’s extra tough,” he concludes.
Facts about the appeal
- The former Police Officer, Eirik Jensen, was sentenced by Oslo District Court to 21 years’ imprisonment for gross corruption and participation in the import of 13.9 tonnes of hash in September 2017.
- His co-accused, Gjermund Cappelen, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for gross corruption and the import of 16.7 tonnes of hash. Cappelen was awarded six years reduction.
- Jensen has appealed the question of guilt. Cappelen has acknowledged guilt but has appealed the sentence. The appeal case started in Borgarting Court of Appeal on August 28th, 2018.
- On Wednesday, January 23rd, Judge Kristel Heyerdahl held her legal dissertation. The jury then withdrew for deliberations.
- Monday, January 28th, the jury found Eirik Jensen guilty of gross corruption but acquitted him of participation in the import of hash. The judges set aside the jury’s ruling. The whole criminal case against him must, therefore, be reassessed by other judges.
- The case is the last in Norway where a jury is to decide the question of guilt. The retrial will be conducted according to a scheme consisting of professional and associate (lay) judges.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today