Norway ex-Minister sexually abused asylum seekers

A Norwegian ex-cabinet minister has been given five years in jail for sexually abusing three asylum seekers.

Svein Ludvigsen, 72, was found guilty of abusing his position as a regional governor and exploiting the vulnerable situation of the three young men.

They said they believed their response to Ludvigsen’s demands for sex could either result in being deported or securing permanent residency.

Ludvigsen has maintained his innocence and vowed to appeal.

The ruling was handed down on Wednesday but only made public the following day.

The events took place in Troms, a county north of the Arctic Circle, between 2011 and 2017.

The men, now aged 25, 26 and 34, told the court that they first met Ludvigsen when he was Troms governor and that he offered them housing and jobs in exchange for sexual favours.

The abuse took place in Ludvigsen’s home and country house, in hotel rooms and in his office, they said.

One was aged just 17 at the time, while another was said to have a “mild intellectual disability”.

Ludvigsen was ordered to pay the men damages totaling 743,000 Norwegian kroner (£69,000; $87,000).

During the trial, the former politician admitted to having sex with one of the men but said it was consensual. He also admitted to lying to police about it.

However, he denied having sex with the two others.

In its verdict, the court said the defendant had deliberately taken advantage of his status to have sexual intercourse. He knew that there was a fear that as county leader (Ludvigsen) he could revoke an asylum seeker’s citizenship.

The conservative politician was fisheries minister from 2001 to 2005 and governor of Troms from 2006 to 2014, when he retired from politics.

Ann-Magrit Austena, secretary general of the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers, welcomed the ruling.

“The verdict is important. It’s an extreme breach of trust, an extreme misuse of power,” she told the BBC. –BBC

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