Since its outset back in 2009, the Bitcoin cryptocurrency has soldiered on through periods of volatility and uncertainty to become the most widely adopted virtual currency today.
Recent judicial events in Norway could be seen as the first steps in a push to see the Bitcoin achieve widespread adoption in not only Europe, but also the rest of the world.
According to reports, prosecutors in Norway are calling for three drug dealers who operated via the darknet to pay part of their stipulated penalty in Bitcoin.
This has generated significant interest in the Bitcoin community.
This is largely due to the fact that criminals who engage in weapons and drug dealing though darknet platforms often pay the stipulated penalties in fiat currency forms.
The sentencing of darknet criminals often includes incarceration, fines, or penalty payments in monetary terms as well as having their devices and other assets confiscated.
Occurrences where they are required to pay their penalty in Bitcoin is very rare indeed.
It is common knowledge today that the preferred mode of transaction in dark web marketplaces is Bitcoin.
Individuals who engage in criminal activities on the dark web also favor this and other forms of cryptocurrency.
As law enforcement agencies around the world have been turning their focus to these hidden corners of the internet over the past few years, reports of darknet-related arrests have increased.
In the March 2017 Norwegian court case, the three aforementioned convicts were formally charged with drug dealing on darknet markets.
One of the darknet platforms utilized by the three convicts is the infamous and now defunct Silk Road market, owned and managed by Ross William Ulbricht.
The case prosecutors’ requested the court to have the convicts repay some of their profits realized in Bitcoin.
If the court grants the prosecutors’ request, the dark web drug dealers will have to part with around 120 BTC.
This amounts to approximately $144,000 USD, given the current Bitcoin price.
In addition, they are also seeking a 3.1 million Norwegian Kroner penalty, the country’s and its dependent territories’ native fiat currency.
If the court approves and the prosecutors have their way, this will be the first time that a country in Europe has exacted criminal compensation in Bitcoin as opposed to just seizing it as an asset.
The three darknet drug dealers were apprehended in summer 2015 for operating a drug distribution and dealing ring.
According to the prosecutors, the convicts sent the narcotics and other drugs to their clients through mail.
According to one of the prosecutors, Richard Beck Pedersen, the trio employed Bitcoin as a means of transaction in order to ensure anonymity.
Law enforcement authorities reportedly have evidence to support this claim.
The Norwegian law enforcement agencies in conjunction with certain international investigative officials oversaw the challenging investigation for 2 years before the arrests were made.
The three suspects were arrested in the greater Oslo area, where law enforcement authorities seized substantial quantities of narcotics, an illegal indoor marijuana farm, and several computers.
In a local press statement, prosecutor Richard Beck Pedersen was quick to state that the Norwegian government does not officially identify Bitcoin as a legal tender despite last week’s court events.
According to The Norwegian Tax Administration, Bitcoin falls under the category of assets and not currency under Norwegian law.
No information has been disclosed as to why the prosecutors in this case are requesting for penalties paid in the form of the cryptocurrency.
The case is expected to go to trial later in 2017.
Commenters have noted that the Bitcoin penalty payment request could be the beginning of a paradigm shift in jurisdictions within and beyond European borders.
This can be a positive milestone for the cryptocurrency as it witnesses mainstream adoption and recognition.