NORWAY -- After arrests for wearing hoodies, the Soldiers of Odin was forced to drag the police to court to make them interpret the law the way they should, or the group would practically be banned.
BACKGROUND: Soldiers of Odin to take the police to court
Now the verdict has come, a full acquittal, which is expected to lead to rapid growth of the group, leader of the SOO, Steffen Larsen believes.
What does the verdict mean for you? Can you now use the hoodies / jackets with the Soldiers of Odin logo across the country?
- Yes, we see it that way.
Have police appealed the verdict?
- No the prosecutor asked for acquittal, and she was quite happy with the outcome. Police are now trying to twist it to that we can not go in large groups in some counties. But then we just spread out and continue walking.
Why did the prosecutor ask for acquittal?
- Because after the explanation from the witness, who was one of the policemen who stopped us, both the prosecutor and the judge realized that the police officers blindly followed orders from the police chief, and since we clearly had not broken the law in any way, the prosecutor asked for acquittal and not dismissal, because she thought it was important to get a verdict on this lobbying. It's the mayors and other politicians who have asked the police chiefs to give these orders, but they are not valid according to the law, so therefore it was right for me to disobey the orders and refuse to pay the fine, and I should be acquitted, says Steffen Larsen.
- The closing procedure by the prosecutor got everyone in the courtroom to cheer, he adds.
So the policeman who arrested you, witnessed to the SOO's advantage in court?
- Yes, he was honest and said that we behaved exemplary and that the order from the chief was that we were to be removed no matter what we did. The judge asked bluntly if we were 20 drunk people, would we then be removed? No, said the policeman. But if we were sober and for example helped someone change a flat tire? Yes, then we would remove them, he answered, Larsen says.
What does this verdict mean for the recruitment?
- A lot. We see that many of those who have been sitting on the fence because of fear of being arrested, and with the false image the media and police have given us. They now come down from the fence and become active again. In addition, we have quite a large influx of new applications to join because of this court decision.
Steffen Larsen points out that the Soldiers of Odin in Norway, has little to do with the organizations in other countries, as it's not a union but a group of concerned citizens who have enough with their own area. Also he doesn't want to answer for what people in other countries do, as he can only speak for the SOO in Norway. He says that they have adopted the guidelines from Finland, as they work well in Norway also, but other than that, they are on their own, together - in increasing numbers.
READ: This picture explains the Soldiers of Odin's real mission
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