Flight to Freedom

Back in May 2008 three female Norwegian teenagers were stopped on their way out of Bolivia with a sweet 22,4 kilograms of cocaine hidden in their luggage. This was the start of a massive media show, with every single TV station and newspaper getting on the first flight bound for Cochabamba, Bolivia, where the girls were jailed. When something happens with Norwegians abroad, we seem to love it - at least the media does. The arrest of the three teenagers got almost as much media attention as the arrest of and subsequent trial against Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland, two Norwegian “security contractors” arrested in May 2009 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, accused of murdering their driver by gunshot and of espionage for Norway.

But let’s get back to Bolivia. There are a lot of places you don’t want to get busted for drug smuggling. The worst is probably Singapore, where the award is execution, but I’m guessing Bolivia isn’t a walk in the park either. That was probably what one of the three girls thought as well, and when she was released on a NOK 200 000 (~USD 35 000) bail in December 2009, she decided to get the hell out of the country and back to Norway. Here she was charged for attempting to smuggle the cocaine to Norway, but just recently she got acquitted by a Norwegian court.

The two girls still stuck in Cochabamba were not that lucky: In April 2010 they were both sentenced to 13 years and four months in jail for their failed smuggling attempt. The sentence was later reduced to 10 years and eight months for both of them. But one of the girls, Stina Brendemo Hagen, decided that she didn’t want to spend her twenties in a Bolivian jail, and when she was released on bail in August 2011, she fled the country and flew back to Norway.

And here she is free to live a perfectly normal life because the Norwegian authorities won’t prosecute her as she “can’t be sentenced for the same charges twice”. It doesn’t even look like she has to serve her ten years of jail time in a Norwegian jail either, so basically she’s off the hook (source, source, both in Norwegian). My three word comment: What the fuck!?

Norway, like every other country in the world, doesn’t extradite its own citizens to other countries. This is understandable, because in other countries they might, in a worst case scenario, face a death sentence. I can also see that it would be wrong to sentence someone for the same charges twice. But as a matter of fact she has been through a trial where she was indeed found guilty and sentenced in Bolivia. That she does not have serve in Norway makes no sense to me. Does this mean that if I go to Bolivia, put a bullet in someone’s head, get arrested, sentenced to life in prison, but break out and flee to Norway, I can walk around as a free man back home? Is getting back to Norway a magical get-out-of-jail-card?

We fine middle aged politicians NOK 25 000 (~USD 4 400) for getting a full body massage by a prostitute in Latvia (source), but trying to smuggle a load of cocaine is evidentially just fine. That’s pretty fucked up right there. Does someone with a little knowledge of how the Norwegian legal system works please weigh in?


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