Svein Ludvigsen, a former deputy leader of the ruling Conservative Party and Fisheries Minister, has been charged with abusing his position in order to gain sexual favours from three asylum seekers, exploiting their vulnerable situation, the tabloid daily Verdens Gang reported.
'We believe we can prove that sexual intercourse has taken place. An assessment has been made of the evidence gathered, including witness statements, images, documents, technical evidence, and communication', Attorney General Tor Børge Nordmo told Verdens Gang.
According to the charges, the events took place largely during Ludvigsen's tenure as Troms County governor, between 2011 and 2017. The prosecution claimed the numerous cases of abuse to have occurred in his home, country house, and even Tromsø office, as well as hotel rooms.
All three victims are adults, but much younger than Ludvigsen, with one of them suffering from a mild intellectual disability. According to the prosecution, Ludvigsen sought out the man who was then living at a child welfare institution and ceremonially delivered him his Norwegian passport, which led the man to believe that he had the authority to bestow and deprive him of citizenship.
A possible fourth victim couldn't be interviewed by the police because he was in another country with no legal residence permit, police attorney Elin Nordgård Strand said.
Ludvigsen's former colleagues and fellow Conservatives called the charges as 'shocking', describing Ludvigsen as an 'amicable guy' of whom nothing negative has ever been spoken.
'The party have never received any complaints or alerts about him', a fellow Norwegian Conservative told the Dagbladet daily newspaper.
Before serving as regional governor between 2006 and 2014, Ludvigsen held several high-ranking positions, including the post of fisheries minister (2001-2005) and was even briefly appointed deputy leader of the Conservatives, one of Norway's leading parties, currently in power. Ludvigsen was also long-serving member of Norwegian parliament for several decades.
Ludvigsen, who was arrested in early 2018 and released from custody after five weeks, has denied the charges against him.