Norway gunman Breivik pleads not guilty

2012-04-16 11:54

Oslo - Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty on Monday for his massacre of 77 people in Norway last July in a defiant start to his trial that saw him greet the Oslo courtroom with a far-right salute.

While families of the victims fought back tears, Breivik showed little emotion and sat stone-faced as the court heard chilling details of the 22 July killings in downtown Oslo and at a summer camp in the idyllic Utoya Island.

"I acknowledge the acts, but not criminal guilt and I claim legitimate defence," the right-wing extremist, who is accused of "acts of terror", told the court.

Dressed in a suit and wearing a gold-coloured tie, Breivik touched his chest and extended his clenched right fist in front of him as his handcuff were removed on his entry into the courtroom.

In the 1 500-page manifesto he posted online shortly before the July attacks, Breivik described the gesture as "the clenched fist salute" of the Knights Templar organisation, of which he claims to be a member but which the prosecution later argued does not exist.

Lead judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen opened the proceedings, which are expected to last 10 weeks and focus primarily on whether Breivik is sane and should be sent to prison or a psychiatric ward.

Methodical killings

Breivik told the judges he did not recognise their legitimacy.

"I do not recognise the Norwegian court," he said.

On 22 July, Breivik, now 33-years-old, killed eight people when he set off a bomb in a van parked at the foot of government buildings in Oslo housing the offices of Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was not present at the time.

He then travelled to Utoya island outside Oslo where, dressed as a police officer, he spent more than an hour methodically shooting at hundreds of people attending a ruling Labour Party youth summer camp.

The shooting spree left 69 people dead, most of them teenagers trapped on the small heart-shaped island surrounded by icy waters. It was the deadliest massacre ever committed by a sole gunman.

A number of the victims' bodies were found on the "Love Path" that encircles the island, Prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh told the court.

Taking notes

As prosecutors read out the long list of names of those killed and injured, Breivik listened intently with his eyes lowered, appearing to read from a page before him and sometimes taking notes.

His emotions were at times hard to read, but he could be seen smiling as prosecutors recounted elements of his background.

Four court-appointed psychiatrists sitting in the courtroom - who have drawn two contradictory conclusions about whether he is sane - shot glances at Breivik to observe his reactions.

Engh told the court: "The accused has committed very serious crimes of a degree we have not seen in our country in modern times."

He "created fear in the Norwegian population".

In the Utoya massacre, she said "there was panic and fear of death among children and adults".

Disgust and despair

"He shot at people who were fleeing or hiding, or who he lured out by saying he was a policeman," noting that most of the 69 dead were killed by bullets to the head.

Most of the shooting victims were teenagers - 56 of them were under the age of 20 and the youngest victim had just celebrated his 14th birthday, she said.

Several family members of the victims cried quietly as they listened to the long reading of the list of victims.

One family member, a woman wearing a yellow African headdress, wiped away tears and shook her head in disgust and despair.

Breivik has previously described his actions as "cruel but necessary" and claims he acted alone and in self-defence against those he considered to be "state traitors" for opening Norway up to multiculturalism and allowing the "Muslim invasion" of Europe.

He faces either 21 years in prison - a sentence that could thereafter be extended indefinitely if he is still considered a threat to society - or closed psychiatric care, possibly for life.

Contradictory psychiatric evaluations

He wants to be found sane and accountable for his actions so that his anti-Islam ideology, as presented in his manifesto, will be taken seriously and not considered the ravings of a lunatic.

Breivik has said that court-ordered psychiatric care would be "worse than death".

During the trial, "he will not only defend [his actions] but will also lament, I think, not going further", Breivik's main defence lawyer Geir Lippestad said last week.

The five judges will have to consider the two contradictory psychiatric evaluations presented to the court, and determine whether he is sane and accountable when they hand down their verdict sometime in July.

Monday's proceedings were broadcast live on Norwegian public television NRK, though the sound was blocked out when the names of the victims and injured were read out.

Anders Behring Breivik trial

All the latest news from around the web about the trial of Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, who gunned down youths attending a Labour party camp after setting off a bomb outside the government offices in Oslo.

Storified by Aneeqah Emeran · Mon, Apr 16 2012 05:47:44

Articles from around the web.
Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik barred from reading 'new manifesto' in court - TelegraphOn Friday, Breivik said he was not nervous, but complained to his lawyers that he had been distracted by too many police interviews to co...
Anders Behring Breivik trial - live updatesGood morning. Welcome to live coverage of the first day of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted killing 77 people in a b...
Inside the World's Most Humane Prison - Photo Essays - TIMEAnders Behring Breivik, the man accused of the July 22 killing spree and bomb attack, could be sent to Halden, a Norwegian high-securit...
Stephens: What Is Anders Breivik? - WSJ.comIn The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens writes that the Oslo terrorist is neither Christian nor conservative.
Anders Behring Breivik, Norway Mass Killer, Trial Begins17 hours ago ... OSLO, Norway -- The terror trial against an anti-Muslim fanatic who confessed to killing 77 people in Norway starts Mo...
BBC News - Profile: Anders Behring Breivik4 days ago ... Profile of the 33-year-old Norwegian militant who killed dozens of people in two attacks - a bomb blast in Oslo followed...
Anders Behring Breivik - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaAnders Behring Breivik 1] is a Norwegian terrorist and the confessed perpetrator of the 2011 attacks in Norway. On 22 July 2011, Breivi...
Anders Behring #Breivik pleads not guilty to murder of 77 people in #Norway; says he was acting in "self defence" Breaking News
Anders Behring Breivik, suspect in killings of 77 people in Norway, claims self-defense Breaking News
Trial of Anders Behring Breivik Opens in Norway - Anders Behring Breivik saluted as he entered the courtroom in Oslo... Garut
DailyMail: Anders Behring Breivik trial: Harrowing screams of victims to be played at opening day Jenner
Norway prosecutors say Anders Behring #Breivik's Knights Templar network does not exist: -JMThe Associated Press
If Anders Breivik is only a 'gunman' then media shud designate all Muslim suspects as 'gunmen' 2. @BDUTTVaishnav Janto
Norway mass killer defiant at trial - Confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik admits to killing 77 in bomb-and-shoot... Ronnie Joyner
Anders Breivik pleads not guilty <Wouldn't it be simpler to shoot the blighter and move on?> Ivins
IS THIS ALSO A "BY WAY OF DECEPTION" THING?Anders Behring Breivik, who is charged with the murder of 77 people in bombing and shooting attacks in Norway on July 22, says he does not recognize the authority of the Oslo court. Omar Sharif
Hey the guy is telling you he s sane and has no remorse , the worrying thing is he has supporters crazy world there is no defence for what he did .....Kieran Brady
My thoughts are in Norway and with those who have to relive last year's nightmare or learn how their dear ones died as the case against anders Behring breivik opens. I will cry with you.Ingrid Myhr