News24

Breivik trial: Amputee survivor testifies

2012-05-24 19:05

Oslo - A young man who lost an arm and a leg during the shooting attack by Norwegian self-confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik told an Oslo court on Thursday that he has a better life than the far-right anti-Muslim gunman despite his amputations.

"I think of where the defendant is and where I am. I have a better life than he has," said Iraqi-born Mohamad Hadi Hamed.

Breivik has confessed to carrying out the 22 July 2011 bombing attack in Oslo and a shooting rampage in the nearby Island of Utoya in which a total of 77 people died, but has pleaded not guilty.

A key issue in the trial, which is expected to last until June, is whether Breivik will be considered accountable for his actions. Two psychiatric teams have reached conflicting conclusions on his mental health.

The Oslo District Court on Thursday asked a panel of psychiatric experts to decide whether a report that concluded that Breivik was accountable needed further examination.

During observation earlier this year in prison, Breivik was "attentive, focused and organised", Oslo daily Aftenposten reported on Thursday, citing a report from a psychiatrist who was part of the team that monitored him round the clock.

Hamed, confined to a wheel chair after doctors were forced to amputate his left arm and left leg, exercised his right to request that Breivik sit in an adjacent room during the testimony.

Two-month coma

The 21-year-old, who was also shot in the stomach, said he was determined to stay alive during the attack on Utoya where he attended a Labour Party youth camp.

When a boat approached the island, Hamed shouted for help in Arabic. "I thought I was in Iraq because something like this could never happen in Norway," he said, recalling how he lay among dead people and felt he was the "sole survivor of an explosion".

Hamed was in a coma for two months and said he was struggling to adjust to becoming "a half person" after the amputations.

Another survivor, Mathias Eckhoff, aged 21, testified that he swam over a kilometre, just using his arms, after being shot in both legs before he was rescued by a boat. He has undergone 11 operations.

"I hesitate when I see police officers, at least when they are alone in a squad car," Eckhoff said, recalling how Breivik, masquerading as a police officer, had tricked victims into leaving their hiding places by saying he was going to help them leave in a boat, and then shot them.

Both men were among the few who survived at a shack near the shoreline where 14 of the 69 Utoya victims died.