Former Conservative Party heavyweight Svein Ludvigsen, once one of Norway’s most trusted top politicians, has admitted in court to having had sex with a young male asylum seeker who prosecutors believe was exploited by Ludvigsen, national broadcaster NRK reported.
72-year-old Ludvigsen is facing a 12-year prison term for allegedly misusing his position of power to obtain sexual favours from three young men who had arrived in Norway alone and were awaiting decisions on their asylum applications. By contrast, the former government minister insisted the sex was consensual and that no coercion whatsoever was involved.
“Yes I have had sexual contact with NN [the refugee in question] three times”, Ludvigsen testified during his trial on charges that he abused his power as the governor of Troms County. “All three occasions have been voluntary, without any force or threats”, he assured.
However, his alleged victims testified otherwise, insisting that Ludvigsen had abused their vulnerability, leading them to believe that he, as a county governor, had the power to grant both residence permission and citizenship or, alternatively, arrange for their deportation.
“He told me he was friends with the king”, the first of the three asylum seekers, now in his 20s, told the court, as quoted by NRK. According to him, Ludvigsen first met him at an asylum centre and invited to his holiday cabin, where he allegedly made sexual advances. The asylum seeker admitted to submitting to Ludvigsen's propositions for fear of being sent out of the country.
The second refugee offered a similar testimony, adding that Ludvigsen allegedly boasted that he could introduce the man, who was working as a cleaner in Ludvigsen's office, to Prime Minister Erna Solberg. By his own admission, the subsequent sexual contacts occurred during driving tours with Ludvigsen.
Han var fiskeriminister og fylkesmann. Kongeparets reisekamerat ved flere anledninger. Tirsdag møter Svein Ludvigsen i retten, tiltalt for å ha misbrukt sin stilling for å få seksuell omgang med unge asylsøkere. https://t.co/9f5NBp1VJX pic.twitter.com/q7pcNPv8nM— NRK Troms (@nrktroms) 10 июня 2019 г.
While admitting to sexual contact for the first time since his arrest in January 2018, Ludvigsen firmly denies the criminal charges that could put him behind bars. Earlier he claimed that the sexual encounters never occurred.
Ludvigsen, who is happily married with children and grandchildren, said he “hunted himself into a corner” and ventured he was “his own worst enemy”. He also admitted to having viewed homosexual pornography and having consensual sexual relations with other men not named in the indictment.
Legal historian and criminologist Olav Rønneberg called Ludvigsen's testimony “a turning point” and suggested it was the most serious case against a Norwegian official since the postwar trials when Nazi collaborators were condemned as traitors. However, he stressed that Ludvigsen keeps insisting that the sexual contact was limited and occurred voluntarily.
Ludvigsen was a long-serving MP over several decades, having a brief stint as the deputy leader of the Conservatives, one of Norway's oldest and largest parties currently in power. Between 2006 and 2014, Ludvigsen was the governor of Troms County. Before that, he served as fisheries minister.
Ludvigsen's former colleagues and fellow Conservatives called the trial “shocking”, recalling Ludvigsen as an “amicable guy”, of whom nothing negative has ever been spoken.