A now 14-year-old Gambian boy is accusing a Norwegian teacher (57) of sexual abuse. It is the first case brought for an Oslo court regarding the many incidents of alleged European sex tourists to The Gambia being engaging in underage boys and girls. The accused teacher admits having slept in the same bed as the boy but says abuse charges are made up by Gambian police.
The Gambian boy - who only was 12 when the alleged sex abuses took place in 2003 - is now in Oslo, the Norwegian capital, accompanied by his father, Omar Kolly of Gambian Interpol and Theresa Sarr, Gambian public prosecutor. The four Gambians agree in their accusations of repeated sexual abuse in 2003. All are testifying against the 57-year-old teacher.
As the case opened in the Oslo court today, the accused was heard. He acknowledged to have had a special relationship with the boy, but also with his family.
The two first met in early 2003 as the accused was on holiday in The Gambia. The teacher in court claimed he had noticed the 12-year-old for appearing especially poor, thin and underprivileged. Being told his was a son of divorced parents, he claims he decided to help the boy, buying him "new shoes and giving money to the family so they could buy some sacks of rice."
The accused explained that these money transfers became regular after he returned to Norway and were aimed at providing the boy and his brother with an education. He decided to return to The Gambia in November 2003 to visit the family, he explained in court.
According to the 57-year-old, the boy's father had urged him to let the boy live in the accused's hotel. He claims they always staid in separate beds. "To him, it was good living in a nice and neat hotel and eat well," he explained. This was also where other Norwegian tourists, including a journalist, had observed the two, reacting to the strange "couple" and reporting it to the police in the Nordic country.
The Norwegian teacher however claims that there was nothing strange about the relation and that they spent most time together with the boy's family. The father even had urged him to adopt the boy, he said in court.
The accused further told about a visit to the boy's mother, crossing River Gambia. As they had not caught the last ferry, they had to sleep over, sharing the only accessible bed. "It is not true that we had sex there," he emphasised, adding that they had kept there clothes on and that there were no alternatives in the mother's small and simple house.
The teacher says he in not guilty in any criminal offence. His only intentions were "to help a poor boy and his family to a better life." He further claims that the now 14-year-old boy recently had told him that he was very sorry for the accusations coming up but that "he could not do anything about it."
The accused explained the court that the whole case against him had been constructed by Gambian police, which he described as "corrupt". After having been contacted by Norwegian police and after media attention on paedophilia in The Gambia, Gambian police had wanted "concrete results to show to." They thus had pressured the boy and his family to testify against him, he claimed in court.
The boy, his father and Gambian police are to testify in the case later this week. The case has got much media attention in Norway, being the first-ever police investigation against national tourists accused of sex abuses in Africa. Similar cases on Norwegian sex tourists in Thailand have however been treated by Oslo courts, several cases ending with convictions.
The teacher during the last year also has been accused of yet another abuse case. He is accused of sexual harassment of a teenager girl on the school he worked on and has now been sacked while the case is on trial. If convicted, he will face between two and ten years imprisonment.