BAERUM, Norway — A Norwegian court on Thursday sentenced a right-wing extremist to a minimum of 21 years in prison for a 2019 mosque attack near Oslo and murdering his step-sister in a racially-motivated act.
He was found guilty of trying to “kill as many Muslims as possible,” though no one was seriously injured in the mosque attack.
“Philip Manshaus… is sentenced to 21 years of ‘forvaring,'” a court west of Oslo ruled, using the Norwegian term for a custodial sentence that can be extended indefinitely.
A self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, 22-year-old Manshaus was arrested on August 10, 2019, after opening fire in the Al-Noor mosque in the affluent Oslo suburb of Baerum while wearing a bulletproof vest and a helmet with a camera strapped to it.
Just three worshipers were in the mosque at the time. One of them, a 65-year-old man, overpowered Manshaus.
“Manshaus has said that his plan was not only to kill as many Muslims as possible but that wanted to destabilize society and accelerate the race war,” the court said in its verdict.
The body of his 17-year-old stepsister, Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen, was later found in their home.
Adopted from China by his father’s girlfriend, Ihle-Hansen was killed by four bullets in what prosecutors termed a “racist act.”
Norway does not have a life sentence, but a custodial sentence can be extended without limit as long as the person is considered a threat to society. Manshaus can apply for an early release after 14 years.
The prosecution had called for the custodial sentence on the grounds that Manshaus would be “dangerous for a long time.”
His defense lawyer Unni Fries had raised doubts about his mental health and recommended psychiatric care, against Manshaus’ wishes.
Fries noted his “rather paranoid world view” and his belief that Europe was under threat from “Muslims, Jews, gender equality, homosexuals, the media and the authorities.”
During the trial, three experts declared him legally sane and criminally responsible.
Manshaus had admitted to the facts of the case but pleaded not guilty, claiming his actions came out of “necessity,” namely to ensure the “survival of the white race.”
Manshaus has said he was inspired by the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, when self-avowed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant killed 51 people in shootings at two mosques.
Tarrant in turn has said he was inspired by Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, who in July 2011 killed 77 people in a truck bomb blast near government offices in Oslo and a shooting spree at a Labor Party youth camp.