Norway police chief jailed in drug bust
Oslo’s district court found Eirik Jensen, 60, guilty of helping to import 13.9 tonnes of cannabis from 2004 to 2013, gross corruption and several violations of the Norwegian weapons law.
Jensen, who was responsible for combating organised crime in Oslo, was given the harshest possible sentence with judge Kim Heger saying the former police chief had deliberately contributed to “the biggest drug case in Norway’s legal history.”
The court ruled that he had received at least 667,800 kroner (€71,300) in bribes to help smuggle tonnes of cannabis into Norway.
After over 35 years of service, Jensen was suspended from duty and detained in February 2014 in connection with a probe into a drug group.
Norway is frequently named one of the world’s least corrupt countries, and placed sixth in last year’s global rankings by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.
Defence lawyer John Christian Elden told reporters that Jensen had pleaded not guilty and planned to appeal.
“We lost the battle, but we hope to win the war,” Elden said after the verdict. “There will be an appeal.”
A key witness was his co-conspirator, weed smuggler Gjermund Cappelen, who admitted importing the hash and was sentenced to 15 years in jail.
The Norwegian media reported that his sentence was reduced in exchange for co-operation in exposing Jensen.
Jensen and Cappelenm exchanged hundreds of texts over a decade, some of which included disguised details of police and customs activity, the court was told.
Jensen’s lawyers claimed the messages were standard police investigative work with an informant to extract information and that he had not received any money or gifts.
But the judges did not believe their explanation.
The court heard the SMSs had been sent in “simple codes”, broadcaster NRK reported, and references to “sunshine” were designed to indicate that Cappelenm was not under police surveillance and could safely import his commodities.
Judge Kim Heger ruled that the senior officer had deliberately contributed to the import of drugs, in a case which was unique in Norwegian legal history.
“Jensen has actively and deliberately contributed to a well-organised and extensive import of hashish,” he said when delivering his verdict.
It has attracted intense attention in Norway, dominating the news agenda, including an unusual live television broadcast of parts of the trial.
Norwegian police scandals are rare. Picture credit: Flickr