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Revealing a criminal

Investigative journalism sometimes reveals stories hard to believe. Sometimes these stories change history or make politicians leave office. And sometimes they put crime offenders in jail – like the VG story about the lawyer and the debt collector.

This VG story is about Amir Mirmotahari (39), a Norwegian lawyer who ran his own law firm with a staff of seven in Oslo. He has published a book on human rights and, together with his wife at the time, he owned property worth several hundred million Norwegian kroner.

But he was also prepared to do unheard of things to set a client of his free.

On 15 June 2016, after several months of investigation VG reporters Rolf J. Wideøe and Bjørnar Tommelstad, were able to publish their scoop. In a soundtrack the lawyer is asking a debt collector to kidnap a rape a victim who’s trial was due to come up in Oslo District Court.

The debt collector was a know criminal, the victim a drug addict that the court had trouble getting hold of.  The aim of the kidnapping was to have the case dismissed and Mirmotahari’s client released. The lawyer knew that the court would dismiss the case if she didn’t come to court.

 

The lawyer was arrested the day after VG’s exposé was published and the one of the largest investigations ever at the Olso police was initiated. Mirmotahari was charged with obstruction of justice, gross corruption, narcotics offences and conspiring to commit a murder.

 

The whole story started off with a tip.

”In many ways tips is the lifeblood for journalism. This time it lead to us establishing contacts with several criminals that started trusting us. We also used social media to connect information and find people”, explains Rolf J. Wideøe.

The lawyer and the debt collector was awarded Best Scoop in Schibsted Journalism Award 2017.