Zaniar Matapour appears in court in Oslo, Norway, March 12, 2024. A verdict is expected Thursday, July 4, in case of the Iranian-born Norwegian man who is charged with terrorism for the 2022 deadly shooting at an Oslo LGBTQ Pride festival Source: Lise Åserud/NTB Scanpix via AP, File

Iranian-Born Norwegian Man Found Guilty in 2022 Oslo LGBT+ Festival Attack, Sentenced to 30 Years

Jan M. Olsen READ TIME: 2 MIN.

An Iranian-born Norwegian man was found guilty of terrorism on Thursday in a 2022 attack on an LGBTQ+ festival in Oslo and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Two people were killed and nine were seriously wounded in the shooting at three locations, chiefly outside the London Pub, a popular gay bar, on June 25, 2022.

The Oslo District Court said Zaniar shot 10 rounds with a machine gun and eight shots with a handgun into the crowd. It said Matapour had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group and "has been radicalized for several years."

His 30-year sentence was the highest penalty in Norway since terror legislation was changed in 2015.

Matapour can request parole after 20 years but can only be released if he is deemed no longer dangerous.

Prosecutor Aud Kinsarvik Gravås called it "the right outcome" and "a historically severe punishment." Matapour's lawyer, Marius Dietrichson, said it was "a severe punishment" and that they have not yet decided whether to appeal.

Espen Evjenth, who was hit by a bullet in the forehead at the London Pub, told the Norwegian news agency NTB that it was "a great relief."

Extensive video material of the attack had been presented in court. The verdict was not read in court but sent out electronically. Matapour would have the verdict read to him in prison, the court said.

Matapour was overpowered by bystanders after the attack and arrested. Following the attack, a Pride parade was canceled, with police saying they could not guarantee security.

The shooting shocked Norway, which has a relatively low crime rate but has experienced a series of "lone wolf" attacks by individuals in recent decades, including one of the worst mass shootings in Europe. In 2011, a right-wing extremist killed 69 people on the island of Utoya after setting off a bomb in Oslo that left eight dead.

Six days before the attack, Norway's external intelligence agency, E-Tjenesten, learned from an undercover agent that a possible action was expected in a Nordic country and the information was passed to the domestic security service.

Matapour had pleaded innocent. He was examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist who concluded that he was sane at the time of the attack.

During the trial, both the prosecution and the defense agreed that Matapour fired into the crowd and there was no disagreement that the shooting was terror motivated. However, Dietrichson had sought acquittal, saying his client had been provoked to carry out the attack by an E-Tjenesten agent who was pretending to be a high-ranking member of the Islamic State group.

The court said that "it is clear that the actions of the E-Tjenesten did not involve any illegal provocation" and "did not provoke an act of terrorism that would not otherwise have been committed."

The trial started in March and ended May 16.

Four others are suspected of complicity in the case, but none has been formally charged.

by Jan M. Olsen

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