At the current stage of the investigation, the hypothesis of “mental illness” has emerged regarding the attacker, who killed five people Wednesday in Norway with an archery, police said, amid growing questions about the attacker’s mental health.
“The strongest hypothesis after the first days of the investigation is that the disease is his background,” Police Inspector Per Thomas Umholt said during a press conference. He explained that the police listed among the initial hypotheses “anger, revenge, whim, jihad, disease and provocation.”
These statements reinforce questions about the mental health of Danish striker Espen Andersen Brathan, which raises doubts about his criminal responsibility, after he admitted killing five people and wounding three others Wednesday in Kongsberg in the southeast of the country where he resides.
It is suspected that the 37-year-old attacker took the path of extremism after converting to Islam, and on Friday he was placed in temporary detention for four weeks, to be in solitary confinement for the first two weeks.
Prosecutor Anne-Irene Svan Matthiassen told AFP that he would not be held in a prison, but would remain in medical facilities under the supervision of specialists. She explained that Brathan was transferred Thursday evening to a psychiatric institution after an “assessment of his health status.”
The attacker is currently undergoing a psychological evaluation by experts, to see if he can be held criminally responsible for his act. Abstracts may not be issued for several months. And if his attack bore the hallmarks of a “terrorist act”, the authorities are currently inclined to hypothesis of insanity.
“There is no doubt that the act appears to be a terrorist act, but it is important that the investigation continues and we determine the suspect’s motive,” PST chief Hans Sfeir Sjovold told a press conference Thursday. He confirmed that the suspect “was admitted several times to health institutions for a while.”
Barathen, who converted to Islam a few years ago, confessed during his interrogation that he carried out the attack, especially armed with an archery bow and arrows. The suspect is “known” from the intelligence services in charge of combating terrorism in Norway, but there was not much information available in this regard.
“There has been fear about him in the past, related to extremism,” said police official Ole Pridrup Severod. These concerns date back to 2020 and before, and were followed up by the police, according to this official.
And Norwegian media pointed out that two judicial rulings were issued in the past against Pranath: an order not to approach two members of his close family after he threatened to kill one of them, and a conviction for theft and purchase of narcotics in 2012.
And the website Netavizen published a video it was suspected of having posted on social media in 2017, in which it issued a “warning” while declaring his conversion to Islam.
Prathen, who probably acted alone, according to police, killed four women and a man, aged between fifty and seventy, in various places in the quiet city of Kongsberg, with a population of about 25,000, about 80 kilometers west of Oslo.
One of the neighbors described Clutches as a serious, voluminous person with short hair, who was often seen “alone”. “He wasn’t smiling, no expression on his face. He was just staring,” he told AFP.
Norway rarely witnesses such violence, but ten years ago Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, after detonating a bomb near the Norwegian government headquarters in Oslo, before opening fire on a gathering of workers’ youth on the island of Utoya. The authorities have thwarted several plans to launch jihadist attacks in recent years.