Norway mosque shooter pleads not guilty as trial opens

Philip Manshaus was arrested on Aug 10, 2019, after opening fire in the Al-Noor mosque.
Philip Manshaus was arrested on Aug 10, 2019, after opening fire in the Al-Noor mosque.PHOTO: REUTERS

OSLO (AFP) - A Norwegian man who admitted to killing his stepsister before opening fire in a mosque near Oslo last year pleaded not guilty as his trial started on Thursday (May 7).

Wearing a dark suit, 22-year-old Philip Manshaus appeared before the court outside Oslo, making the "okay" sign with his hand as he entered, used by some to signify white supremacy.

Manshaus stands accused of murder and committing an act of terror.

He was arrested on Aug 10, 2019, after opening fire in the Al-Noor mosque in the affluent Oslo suburb of Baerum.

Just three worshippers were in the mosque at the time, and there were no serious injuries as a 65-year-old man overpowered Manshaus.

The body of Manshaus' 17-year-old stepsister was later found in their home.

Adopted from China by his father's girlfriend, Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen was killed by four bullets, police said.

Manshaus has admitted to the facts of case but pleaded not guilty, claiming his actions came out of "necessity".

According to the prosecution, Manshaus had a racist motive and was inspired by the attacks in Christchurch in New Zealand in March 2019, when Brenton Tarrant killed 51 people in shootings at two mosques.

During a court hearing on the extension of his detention, Manshaus gave a Nazi salute to the press.

The trial is due to last until May 26. He faces 21 years in prison if convicted.