Norway fines evangelists

By July 16, 2008

(MNN) — A trial court in Oslo,
Norway has
found two Christian missionaries guilty of failing to obey the police, media
reports indicate. They face heavy fines
but not imprisonment. 

Evangelists Petar Keseljevic of Norway
and Larry Keffer of the Biblical Research Center in Tampa,
FL were sharing the Gospel at a parade
celebrating the anniversary of Norway's
constitution on May 17. 

They were conversing with members of the crowd beyond the
parade lines when the police arrested them and held them for almost four
hours. Some members of the crowd had
complained about the evangelists' actions. 

Keffer and Keseljevic had responded to earlier police requests
that they move away from the Palace of the King, refrain from using a
megaphone, and take their message anywhere else along the route out of sight of
the King.

The International Human Rights Group is working with
Norwegian attorneys to defend the two evangelists. They plan to appeal the ruling as soon as it
is translated into English and take the case all the way to the European Court
of Human Rights in Strasbourg,
if necessary. 

"The court issued a written opinion, which I am waiting
on in English from the court, that the police law has to be obeyed because the
police were trying to keep the peace," IHRG President Joel Thornton told
LifeSite News. "The Norwegians have a police law that is absolute, meaning
that there is no discretion when you are participating in a legitimate activity
and the police ask you to leave. You must obey the police at any cost, and
the courts will not be moved by your right to freedom of expression or

also explained the potential implications of the ruling. 

"If this decision is upheld it will, in effect, mean
that Articles 9, freedom of religion, and Article 10, freedom of expression, of
the European Convention on Human Rights are only valid if the police in Norway approve of your speech," Thornton continued. "Otherwise they can arrest you at any
time and stop your speech."

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