Suspect of assault on Norwegian mosque faces trial

The man suspected of shooting at people inside a Norwegian mosque on Saturday, and of killing his stepsister, appeared in court yesterday with black eyes and wounds on his face and neck.

A judge gave police permission to hold Philip Manshaus, 21, in custody for an initial four weeks while he is investigated on suspicion of murder and breaching anti-terrorism laws. Earlier, Manshaus’s lawyer said his client did not admit to any crime.

The Norwegian police security service, PST, said yesterday that it had received a tipoff about Manshaus last year, but did not investigate further. “There was nothing in that tipoff that suggested there was danger of an act of terrorism or that planning of an attack was under way,” said the head of PST, Hans Sverre Sjøvold.

Witnesses said Manshaus entered al-Noor Islamic centre in Bærum, a suburb of Oslo, with several guns, but was overpowered by a 65-year-old member of the mosque, who managed to wrestle his weapons from him.

A few hours after the mosque attack, police discovered the body of a young woman at what they said was the suspect’s address. Police later said she was his stepsister.

Manshaus did not speak while reporters were present in court and has declined to talk to the police. “He is exercising his right not to be interrogated,” said his defence lawyer, Unni Fries. “He is not admitting any guilt.”

The suspect, whose home is near the mosque, had expressed far-right, anti-immigrant views before the attack, police said earlier.

Online postings under Manshaus’s name, made shortly before the attack, expressed admiration for the massacre at two New Zealand mosques in March by a suspected far-right extremist, in which more than 50 people were killed. Reuters could not independently verify that the postings were made by Manshaus.

Police sought to hold him on suspicion of murder and an anti-terrorism offence of spreading severe fear among the population. Prosecutors said: “The investigation is still in an early phase and the suspect has not made any statements to the police.”