Norwegian court convicts man in deadly Pride gay bar shooting

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By Isabelle Yr Carlsson and Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) -An Oslo court on Thursday convicted an Iranian-born Norwegian man of murder and terrorism over a deadly shooting rampage at a gay bar in 2022 during the city's annual Pride celebrations.

Two people died, nine suffered gunshot wounds and 25 others were injured in the attack at the London Pub, a longstanding hub of Oslo's LGBTQ+ scene, as well as a nearby bar in the centre of the Norwegian capital.

Zaniar Matapour, a 45-year-old Iranian-born Norwegian citizen, described by police as a radicalised Islamist with a history of mental illness, stood trial on charges of murder and aggravated terrorism.

He will serve 30 years in prison, which could be extended indefinitely if he is deemed to continue to pose a threat to society, with a minimum detention time of 20 years. The sentence, the longest possible under Norwegian law, is in line with what the prosecution had asked for.

"The court finds that the actions in their entirety are so serious that the maximum sentence should be applied," the court said in its verdict.

Matapour was also ordered to pay compensation amounting to around 112 million crowns ($10.6 million) to survivors and relatives of the victims.

"We are pleased to have received a thorough and well-reasoned judgment by the Oslo District Court," Christian Lundin, representing the victims of the attack, said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

"On behalf of the plaintiffs, we are very satisfied that the court has awarded compensation in accordance with the claims made on behalf of the 312 individuals (affected)."

It is not yet clear whether Matapour will appeal.

"I have to read the verdict in more detail and go through it with my client. My advice to him is that he should consider appealing the verdict," Matapour's lawyer, Marius Dietrichson, told Reuters.

It came days after Oslo's latest annual Pride parade, which paid tribute to the memories of the victims of the shooting.

An estimated 70,000 revellers - the equivalent of 10% of Oslo's population - marched in this year's event, a number a little under last year's record of 90,000 participants.

According to the charges against him, Matapour started shooting at about 1:13 a.m. local time, some 50 minutes after swearing allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group in an audio recording sent to a friend.

He fired two weapons at people inside and outside the venues, including some who tried to hide or run away, according to the charges.

An independent inquiry into the authorities' response concluded in 2023 that police could have prevented the attack had they acted on a tip-off from a foreign intelligence agency.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, Stine Jacobsen and Isabelle Yr Carlsson in Copenhagen, Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm; editing by Louise Rasmussen and Mark Heinrich)