November 8th, 2009
Extreme Case of Blind Group Violence at NHH
Stop Violence is a case in how anyone, at any place and time, can be exposed to unprovoked and extreme violence that within seconds can turn your life around. This site tell the story of how a great school like NHH, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, with a superb student community and talented, intelligent students can be the place of brutal violence. There are no business school in Norway more popular, admired and respected than NHH. Only 1 out of 10 students are accepted, and you need a B average to enter master level at the 4th year. NHH has long traditions, and is known for the student engagement and their popular arrangements.
All this make it hard to understand understand how it also can be the place for extreme violence. Especially blind, unprovoked violence. And to make matters worse: 5 well-established students against a fresh student, that is just doing his best to integrate and make new friends in a new city.
The dreadful chain of events that to the tragic event at NHH September 7th 2008 can be linked to one thing that NHH is famous for: Alcohol. Alcohol can make seemingly intelligent and rational people do things that is beyound what is normally understandable and comprehendible. And this night is the most alcholized arrangement during a whole year at NHH. It is called "Reversibel Sveiseaften" (reversible meldingnight), were students pay around 1000 NOK to make a party. There are weeks of planning prior to this event, and a cases upon cases of beers is bought in advance to be used in drinking games that start at 3 pm on a Saturday. Some people drink for up to 16 hours this day. Those involved in the violent episode had been drinking for numerous hours before the happy athmosphere took a violent turn at around 5:30 am. For no apperent reason were I asked to leave the nachspiel (afterparty), upon which I requested a reason after finding myself in the hallway outside the room surrounded by 5 people. I were presented an excuse about me taking pictures, which I instantly knew was total rubbish - since I was not taking any pictures as I was asked to leave, and it was something like 20 minutes since I took my last picture. The whole thing was a big mystery to me. I suddenly found myself in the hallway with 5 strangers that didn't want me there anymore, and I couldn't even figure out what I had done wrong. I was not able to figure that they actually didn't have a good and valid reason to throw me out, and that they just did it to exercise the power they had over the room - simply for the fun of it.
Now, this is when the situation started to come out of control. I've heard from other students that these people can decide to throw out people for any kind of reason. One friend were sitting there, talking with two girls - one on each side, telling a story. While doing that, he were sent to the hallway with the false accusation that he spilled a beer on the floor. It is only natural to assume that these Direksjonsmusikken guys (with the white and black stripes) wanted the girls to themselves, and basically just got rid of the competition.
While the initial motivation were to get a kick out of exercising power, a very short guy among those 5 people ran out of patience while I was trying to get to the core of the underlying problem - in attempt to even out of differences, and make friends with these people. He cannot be more than 160 cm, so it is safe to assume that he is suffering for some little-man complexes, and realized that the setting was perfect to improve his self-esteem. Since he was surrounded by 4 tall, well-trained and strong friends - he knew that they would come to rescue if the situation turned bad. Glenn, highly influenced by alcohol, had strongly reduced abilities to analyse and think rationally. In addition, the immense amount alcohol had made him more unhibited - so that any idea, good or bad, have a tendency to be executed without further reasoning. So Glenn attacked me and broke our peaceful discussion. I was in shock. I wouldn't have thought in my wildest dreams that someone would exersice violence at the premisise of their own school. I guess I underestimated the effects of large quantity of alcohol. So I was faced with a difficult situation. When someone attack you, even though you are a non-violent person - you would want to minimize physical damanages. In my attempts to protect myself, if something should happen to Glenn, then his 4 friends would do a 10-fold revenge - making the situation further accellerate out of control. While Glenn is small, and therefore have a limited capability to inflict damange - he did manage to put me to the ground. This went on for some time before his friend, Henrik, decided he should do something to help his friend. So while I'm on the ground, he acts in the moment and takes his best shot at me - kicking me in the face, while I'm helplessly down on the ground.
I was put in an office, where a security guard gave me something to stop the bleeding. Still in shock, and confused about what just had happened, I was sent out - unaware of the severity of my damage. The guard didn't say anything about seeking medical assistance, or attempt to get me a taxi so I could get to the emergency. Instead, I was just excorted out of the building.
Only after returning home were I able to see myself in the mirror, did it become apparent to me that I had a huge cut next to my right eye. Being new in the city, I didn't have any idea were to find the emergency. I didn't even have any number for calling a taxi. And I was very tired past 6 am, so I decided to get a few hours sleep - and figure out where and how I would have to go the next day.
I told the doctor that I had been kicked in the face at a nachspiel, and he did his best stitching it back together. He made 5 stitches, and having to deal with problems like dead skin that he first had to cut out and skin that were missing. My eye started to swell, and I looked like hell that week going around at school. The swelling didn't go away, and the worst-case scenary was a fact - the wound had gotten infected, and I needed daily treatment by professionals to make sure that I wouldn't go blind on my right eye. It stayed infected for 10 days, and I were given one helping stitch before leaving it to heal itself. I remember getting that stitch without anastasia, which hurt like hell. While the skin eventually healed, it remained highly visible - and is still very much visible a year after being a victim of this unprovoked, brutal and totally unjustified act of violence.
There were a meeting between me and those involved, with "Kjernestyret" (Top level student organisation at NHH) present. A report were made, and nothing else happened. The meeting was set up because Henrik wanted to say sorry, but it became clear to me that he only made contact to find out how much I remember of the episode and to put a lid on it by establishing a more personal contact. I also knew before the meeting that they would try to paint a better picture of themselves, since nobody in their right mind would come forward with what actually had happened - if they still wanted to have a future at NHH. Given that there were no external witnesses to the episode, the risk of presenting a cover-up story were practically non-existant. So before the meeting started, I gave them all a chance to come with a clean story - if not, I would press charges. We all knew that at least Henrik had broken the law, and he had practically made a confession by admitting to have caused my servere injury - that was just 1 cm away from making me go blind. While the others might be found guilty in being accessory to the crime.
Since the police are restricted on resources and that the defendant already had confessed to a crime, they did a sloppy job in their investigation. They used my testimony to determine who to call in for interview, which ended up being only those five involved. While their story involved many people at the nachspiel that were not present during the episode, the police thought they had enough to go get Henrik convicted from his own confession - despite of a long list I had made for the police of these people that could disconfirm the cover-up story. These people were never called in for testimony, which was the only hope I had to get out there what really happpened. Restrained by resources, the police instead pursued the confession - using that as the basis for what happened, in hopes to get a conviction. Resources demanded to pursue my version were substantial, and would more like cause a higher uncertainty to the court regarding chain of events - which would damage the police's probability of getting Henrik convicted for a confessed crime.
The first level court (Tingretten) were divided in two, with the professional judge basing her ruling of guilty on norwegian law and the two civil judges on the other side - clearly ignoring the law in their ruling.
The defendant accused me in his testimony to first have hit him. But he was not able to remember which cheek that I supposedly hit when asked by the judges. Still, he was able to remember that it was so hard that it had swollen the day after!
Henrik explained in court that he stopped drinking around 10-11-12 pm. At direksjonsmusikken.com it is said about the defendant: "Direksjonsmusikken's Turbo-drinker puts his distinctive character on all the parties he is present, and he never goes home." Yet, in his statement, at the party of them all: Reversible Meldingnight, defendant says that he stopped drinking around 10-11-12 pm - while the fact is that everyone involved drank beer the whole night, as can be seen in this ablum. Image 3 clearly shows the defendant holding a beer at 04:27am, totally discrediting himself by telling something totally different to the court. The unlikelyness of Henrik of stopping his alcohol consumption at 10-11-12 pm is properly explained in this picture series - showing the excessive drinking culture that well describes the "Reversibel Sveiseaften"-party.
Henrik also explained in court that he pulled me against him before biting me in the eye, which is practically impossible. He cannot be taller than 180 cm. Henrik must have been at least 190 cm to reach that high! It is physically impossible for the defant to successfully inflict that kind of damage with his mouth when he is lower in height than me.
The 5 people involved are resourceful and well connected, so it seems that they have been able to influence the student paper of NHH to mock me (Image 6) with the sole intention of maximizing damamge. Their cover-up story is just ridiculous, calling the mocking for a satire [Witty language used to convey insults or scorn] with references to a 2001 front page of The Mirror. Nobody would know about this front page since 8 years had passed, and would therefore not be able to see the humor in pure mocking. The newspaper never made any attempts to use witty language, but still try to hind behind the story of it being a satire. There was strong reactions from the students, that did not feel identified with a student newspaper that mock fellow students, from the pricipal that defined such acts as damaging for NHH's reputation, from media experts that claim the mocking to damage the reputation of NHH and from Kjernestyret that were also concerned about how this would affect the reputation.
The case and the backside of the student newspaper generated a lot of buzz and media attention. Since the police had chosen to go with the confession due to restricted resources, which resulted in both the court and the media to publish his version - I felt largely ignored since I didn't have 4 friend to back up my story. Media became therefore my only channel for telling the story of what actually happenened, as an alternative to a loosy designed cover-up story made by 5 friends to minimize any legal actions and better protect themselves against damages to their reputation. NHH have a fairly small and closed community, so it would have devastating effects if the truth were to come out. But it is important to be careful when in contact with the media, since they will always to try to present the story from the most juicy angle - especially the tabloid media channels.
It was a victory in itself when the state choose to appeal the case to the next legal instance, based on the assessment of the professional judge. She made the only right interpretation of the law, no question about that. The state could not agree with the evaluation of the civil judges, which had no basis in the law. There was a new round October 19, 2009 - the second trail (Lagmannsretten). The result is exactly the same as with the first sentence, with the only exception that 3 professional judges voted for conviction and 4 civil judges voted against conviction. Clearly, when 100% of all legal judges in both trails vote for conviction - then it is just facinating that some civil judges can decide otherwise.
With such a divided result between professional and civil judges, the same arguments exist for appealling to the supreme court. First the state has to decide to go forward with the case, and then the appeal also has to be accepted. I grow up with the idea that live in the best country in the world, as confirmed by UN year after year, and I expect to have a huge safety net around me that catch me if something goes wrong. I except the justice system to prevail if someone do something illegally happens towards me. I expect my health to be taken care of and fixed without it being something that I have to pay a fortune for, or that I have to wait for ages to get the treatment I need. I expect media to dig deep, and search for the truth. And I except every illegal action to be pursued, not just those that are of public interest. I expect to be represented and consulted in case of a legal trail, and that I get the results before I am able to read them in the newspaper. All these experiences have made me learn a lot about the workings of our society, and I have adjusted my expectation to the cold society we live in - were money serve as the basis for most actions that are taken.
I have chosen to involve myself in the fight against violence, to present information about the whole process - so that if you one day wake up with a big cut, so severe that you need it stitched up, then you will know what to expect if you choose to enforce your citizen duty and press charges if you have been vitcim of any illegal actions.
Let me stress that I'm not at all a revengeful person. After my initial meeting with the defendant, it was clear that he did not understand the severity of his actions and my mind was not put at ease that he would not pose a threat to my fellow students. A person that is capable of kicking someone in the face while lying on the floor have some serious issues, regardless of the level of alcohol consumption, and is lacking a blocking that should be present in all humans. My citizen duty was to press charges, and it is the responsibility of the system to make him understand the severity of his actions. It is irrelevant for me if the punishment is in form of community servicem, jail or a fine. But the alternative is no conviction, which is signalling to the society that you can cause severe damage to other people with no repercussion. A strong signal to the defendant and the rest of the society that you are free to conduct severe facial damage with life lasting scars, as long as you create a cover-up story which claim self-defence. Even in a 5 against 1 situation, claims about self-defence becomes satisfactory for civil judges - even if the magnitude of the damage is totally out of proportion.
I do care about possiblity that I might not be Henrik's last victim, since I will have problems finding inner peace if for instance something fatal should to a fellow student during my stay at NHH. Then I will feel that I didn't do enough to prevent a repetitive pattern to develop. While it might be difficult to understand and to believe, fact is that I have nothing personally against Henrik. I don't believe Henrik to be an evil person, that enjoy being violent and causing other people damage. I'm by nature an understanding and tolerant person, with a problem-solving mindset. As such, I don't put blame or judge others, since that will not bring me a step closer to a solution. Visit the about me page to understand better my philosophical views on life, that enable me to wake up the next day - perfectly aware that I will have a scare for life - with no revengeful feelings whatsoever!