Norway gunman calm, expects life in jail

2011-07-25 22:12

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Oslo - The self-described perpetrator of the mass killings in Norway told authorities there that he expects to spend the rest of his life in prison but two other cells in his terror network could still launch attacks, officials said on Monday.

Anders Behring Breivik has admitted bombing Norway's capital and opening fire on a political youth group retreat, but he entered a plea of not guilty, saying he acted to save Europe from Muslim immigration.

Prosecutor Christian Hatlo told reporters that Breivik was very calm and "seemed unaffected by what has happened". He said Breivik told investigators during his interrogation that he never expected to be released.

Breivik alluded to two other "cells" in a network he describes as a new Knights Templar, the medieval crusaders who protected Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.

Norwegian police think gunman Anders Behring Breivik is probably a lone wolf, a view also held by some researchers who cast doubt on his claim that he was working with two other cells.

Breivik told a court on Monday that two cells of collaborators were in his "Knights Templar" group that aimed to "save" Europe from Muslims.

Earlier, Breivik maintained he acted alone.

Police attorney Christian Hatlo told reporters on Monday he "cannot completely, and I stress completely, rule out that others were involved in what happened."

Low credibility

But police say privately that they think more cells are unlikely although security services are checking with their international partners about potential foreign links.

"We feel that the accused has fairly low credibility when it comes to this claim but none of us dare to be completely dismissive about it either," a source close to the investigation told Reuters.

At one point, a manifesto he released shortly before the attack briefly refers to an intention to contact two other cells - a term he says refers to "small, autonomous groups" led by individual commanders.

Police announced, meanwhile, that they had dramatically over counted the number of people slain in a shooting spree at a political youth group's island retreat and were lowering the confirmed death toll from 86 to 68.

The overall toll in the attack now stands at 76 instead of 93. Police spokesperson Oystein Maeland said that higher, erroneous figure emerged as police and rescuers were focusing on helping survivors and securing the area, but he did not immediately explain more about how the over counting occurred.

Police also raised the toll from a bombing outside the government's headquarters in Oslo before the shooting spree, from seven to eight.

Police missteps

The dramatic reduction in death toll adds to a list of police missteps: They took 90 minutes to arrive at the island from the first shot, and people who called emergency services have reported being told by operators to stay off the lines unless they're calling about the Oslo bombings.

Peaceful, liberal Norway has been stunned by the bombing in downtown Oslo and the shooting massacre at a youth camp outside the capital, which the suspect said were intended to start a revolution to inspire Norwegians to retake their country from Muslims and other immigrants.

He blames liberals for championing multiculturalism over Norway's "indigenous" culture.

Police have said Breivik used two weapons during the rampage - both of which were bought legally, according to the manifesto. A doctor treating victims told The Associated Press that the gunman used illegal "dum-dum"-style bullets designed to disintegrate inside the body and cause maximum internal damage.

The court ordered Breivik held for eight weeks while prosecutors investigate, four of which will be in isolation, saying Breivik could tamper with evidence if released.

Typically, the accused is brought to court every four weeks while prosecutors prepare their case, so a judge can approve his continued detention. Longer periods are not unusual in serious cases.

Reporters and locals had thronged the courthouse ahead of the hearing, hoping for their first glimpse of Breivik since the assault. When one car drove through the crowd, people hit its windows and one person shouted an expletive, believing Breivik was inside.

But Breivik appears to have been taken through a back entrance, and the judge closed the hearing, denying him a platform to air his extremist views.

Court theatre

Breivik made clear in an internet manifesto that he planned to turn his court appearance into theatre, preparing a speech for his appearance in court even before launching the attacks, then requesting an open hearing in which he would wear a uniform. Both of those requests were denied.

The judge also denied his request to wear a uniform, saying, "allowing him to do so... would be an affront to everybody's dignity, and would seem unnecessarily distracting, provocative and offensive".

The suspect has said he staged the bombing and youth camp rampage as "marketing" for his manifesto calling for a revolution that would rid Europe of Muslims.

"The operation was not to kill as many people as possible but to give a strong signal that could not be misunderstood that as long as the Labour Party keeps driving its ideological lie and keeps deconstructing Norwegian culture and mass importing Muslims then they must assume responsibility for this treason," according to the English translation of Judge Kim Heger's ruling that was read out after the hearing.

European security officials said they were aware of increased internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to the Knights Templar group and were investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002.

The 1 500-page manifesto provides insight into the psychology and planning of the paranoid, self-aggrandising Breivik.

After weaving through a history of European philosophy, Breivik describes in detail his preparations, including how he bought armour, guns, tons of fertilizer and other bomb components, stashed caches of weapons and wiped his computer hard drive - all while evading police suspicion and being nice to his neighbours.

One of those purchases appears to have been flagged by Norway's police security service. The PST says it was alerted in March to a suspicious purchase of an undisclosed product from a Polish chemical firm by Breivik.

Half mast

Janne Kristiansen, the chief of PST, told national broadcaster NRK that the $22 transaction set off an alert because the company was already under scrutiny.

But the transaction was legal and PST would have needed additional information to investigate further.

In his manifesto, Breivik describes a purchase of sodium nitrite from Poland, saying he "was concerned about customs seizing the package... but it appears this didn't happen."

It was not immediately clear if that was the purchase flagged.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg led the mourning nation in a minute of silence, standing on the steps of an Oslo university next to a flame.

The king and queen stood by as well, and neighbouring countries Denmark and Sweden also joined in the remembrance.

Signs of normality began to return to Oslo. A wide police cordon around the bomb site was lifted on the first workday since the attacks, leaving just a narrower zone closed off.

Most shops were open and trams were rumbling through the city's streets.

Father ashamed


But the flag on the courthouse where Breivik appeared remained at half mast.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Swedish tabloid Expressen, the suspect's father said he was ashamed and disgusted by his son's acts and wished he had committed suicide.

"I don't feel like his father," said former diplomat Jens David Breivik from his secluded home in southern France.

"How could he just stand there and kill so many innocent people and just seem to think that what he did was OK? He should have taken his own life too. That's what he should have done."

Breivik said he first learned the news of his son's attacks from media websites. "I couldn't believe my eyes. It was totally paralysing and I couldn't really understand it."

"I will have to live with this shame for the rest of my life. People will always link me with him," he said.

Jens David Breivik said he had severed all contact with his son in 1995 when the latter was 16.

Police surrounded the suspect's father's house in the south of France on Monday. They initially said they were searching the premises, but later said they were there to ensure public order.

Journalists were outside the property.

- AP
Read more on:    anders behring breivik  |  norway  |  norway attacks
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