By Gwladys Fouche
OSLO -A Norwegian court on Monday identified the suspect in a deadly rampage at a gay bar in Oslo as Zaniar Matapour, a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin, as the city prepared a demonstration of solidarity to honour the victims later on Monday.
Matapour, whom police have described as a radicalised Islamist with a history of mental illness, is accused of killing two people and injuring 21 on Saturday, the day the city was due to celebrate its annual Pride parade.
He was apprehended by passers-by who chased him down the street. Police arrived at the scene five minutes after receiving the first emergency calls and took him into custody.
The Oslo district court will decide on Monday the initial terms of Matapour’s detention during the investigation into the mass shooting. He will undergo a psychiatric evaluation as part of that, police said.
Hours later, members of the city’s LGBTQ community will gather in front of Oslo Town Hall. Monday also marks the anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots of June 1969, seen as the protests that gave birth to the international gay rights movement.
Intelligence services said they had been aware of Matapour since 2015 and that he had been part of a network of Islamist extremists in Norway.
“Around 2015 we were worried about this person,” Roger Berg, acting head of Norway’s police intelligence service, PST, told private broadcaster TV2 on Saturday.
“We have followed him, to a degree. In more recent times, he was not one of the people we were the most worried about.
“We assess everyone who are part of these networks … The information we had did not give us ground for further worry, which would mean we would follow him very closely.”
The suspect’s lawyer, John Christian Elden, did not reply to a request for comment when contacted by Reuters.
He told TV2 it was not possible to draw any conclusions about the motives or reasons for the attack. “It is far too early to do so,” he said.
Matapour is accused of murder, attempted murder and terrorism. His response to the accusations is not known.
Matapour moved to Norway as a child with his parents, tabloid VG reported. As an adult, he lived in Oslo, became a father and for several years his main source of income was benefits, it said.