The prosecution in the trial of Vågå mayor Rune Øygard, accused of sexually assaulting a minor, says it will not be calling Jens Stoltenberg to the witness stand despite earlier requests by the victim’s lawyer.
“We cannot see that interviewing him will bring anything new to the case,” state prosecutor Thorbjørn Klundseter says to NRK, “it has nothing to do with the fact he’s Prime Minister. People are obliged to meet in court independent of their position, but testimony should have a bearing on the case if one is to give evidence.”
52-year-old Labour (Ap) mayor of Vågå municipality, Rune Øygard, is indicted for allegedly assaulting the girl at some stage while she was aged 14 to 16 between 2009 and 2011.
It is also believed he sent the purported victim text messages despite requests from her mother for him to stay away.
While Mr Øygard has consistently denied any wrongdoing, Gudbrandsdal district police in Oppland County have stated they are confident there is sufficient evidence for a prosecution. Officers formally asked authorities consider raising charges against him earlier this year.
Initial reports have indicated 40 people could be questioned as witnesses in connection with the case. There are now 60 names on the witness list.
Mr Øygard, who could handed a six-year-sentence if convicted, has asked for the trial to be held behind closed doors “because it is common in sexual matters, especially when the alleged victim is a minor,” his defence counsel, Mette Yvonne Larsen, told VG at the weekend.
“This is also a case where there is a type of familiar relationship between the victim’s family and my client,” she continued.
Nina Braathen Hjortdal, lawyer for the girl, declares she is unsurprised by today’s move by the prosecution not to call Prime Minister Stoltenberg to give evidence, “because this is in line with what prosecuting authorities have signaled earlier.”
“I shall try to appeal to the district court about this, and we’ll then see what it has to say,” she states.
Mr Øygard’s is due to appear in court at the beginning of next month. Four weeks have been set aside for the trial.