Police seek jail term for retired Bishop Stålsett

Gunnar StålsettGunnar Stålsett: Photo. bibel.no

The police are asking for an unconditional jail term for retired Bishop Gunnar Stålsett (84) after he admitted to hiring an asylum seeker without a work permit.

Stålsett retired in 2005 but had the employee without a work permit for 14 years.

In an interview with Vårt Land in August this year, he explained that he did not fear facing up to the law but that he was afraid that the female asylum seeker would be arrested and forced to return home if he had revealed the truth earlier.

Police notified the newspaper that they wanted to investigate the case and on Thursday, Police Attorney Andreas Meeg-Bentzen in the Oslo Police District of TV 2 confirmed that the investigation has been completed.

The case was sent to the Oslo District Court for assessment. The case is scheduled to go as a confession case because Stålsett acknowledged the charge.

Ask for shorter sentences
Meeg-Bentzen says the Court will hear if Stålsett still uses illegal labour. His admission to the charge will give him a reduction in his sentence. The police have taken into account these considerations in their proposal to the Court.

“We are asking for a short unconditional prison sentence given the long period he has used illegal labour,” said the police lawyer.

Stålsett was bishop in Oslo from 1998 to 2005 and became popular partly through acceptance of gays and lesbians. He was previously the secretary of state in the Ministry of Church and Education and chairman of the Centre Party.

No regrets
“I have taken note of the charges. I have acknowledged the circumstances of the case in interrogation and am ready to accept the punishment. I know I must serve a prison sentence. I have no regrets whatsoever,” says Stålsett to TV 2.

He goes on to say that this was an important moral issue for him, and that it posed a challenge to the authorities.

“The Granavolden Declaration is on just this issue and nothing has happened since it was agreed upon. I hope politicians take it seriously. Today’s situation should not be merely based on the rule of law but Christian and humanistic principles,” says Stålsett.

Not the first time
This is not the first time that someone has illegally hired an undocumented asylum seeker nor given full disclosure.

In October, Arne Viste from Sola was sentenced to one year in prison for hiring asylum seekers without legal residence in Norway. He is appealing the verdict.

“The appeal will be firmly grounded in the unsustainable situation for the unreturnable asylum seekers and we maintain the hope of a positive legal outcome,” Viste then told Vårt Land.

In addition to his conditional imprisonment, Viste’s company was fined 1.5 million kroner and 1.4 million kroner was confiscated.

In his judgment, the District Court judge noted that the case was different from other similar cases and the court had doubts about what would be a proper punishment.

Bishop Emeritus Tor B. Jørgensen also had an undocumented asylum seeker at work through Viste’s staffing agency.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


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