Norway politician who hit asylum seeker becomes justice minister

AFP , Tuesday 20 Mar 2018

New Norwegian Justice Minister
Per Sandberg, named as interim justice minister after the resignation of Sylvi Listhaug, in Oslo, Norway March 20, 2018 (Reuters)

A politician convicted of beating an asylum seeker was appointed as acting justice minister in Norway on Tuesday.

Minister of fisheries and a member of the anti-immigration Progress Party (FrP), Per Sandberg is temporarily replacing Sylvi Listhaug who resigned on the same day.

The 58-year-old Sandberg, who's also considered close to the FrP's populist wing, has often made headlines in the media.

In 1997, a court slapped him with a 3,000 kroner (around 400 euros, $490) fine for hitting an asylum seeker from the former Yugoslavia at a late-night party at his place.

"I don't remember who started it, but the headbutting went off like a pure reflex and then it was over," Sandberg wrote in his 2013 memoir.

Social media users were indulging in the irony.

"It's a bit strange to have a justice minister with a police record which would make it impossible for him to work in the police or as a prison guard," a Twitter user said.

"Good news guys! If you've ever been convicted of violence against an asylum seeker, then the FrP has a job for you as acting Minister of Justice and Immigration," another tweet said.

Listhaug, who had been under fire for over a week, announced her resignation on Facebook, sparing Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg from calling a vote of confidence in the government, whose outcome was uncertain.

In a Facebook post on March 9, Listhaug shocked the nation when she accused the opposition Labour Party of considering that "the rights of terrorists are more important than the security of the nation".

Labour members were the main victims of the bloodiest attacks on Norwegian soil since World War II.

On July 22, 2011, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who once was a member of the Progress Party, killed 77 people in twin attacks: one targeting then Labour prime minister Jens Stoltenberg's office in Oslo and another against a Labour youth camp on the island of Utoya.

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