Breivik stands trial over Norway killings

Anders Behring Breivik tells court he does not recognise its authority as trial begins over attacks that left 77 dead

The trial of a man who has confessed to killing 77 people in a bomb attack and gun assault in Norway last year has begun, with initial proceedings set to focus on whether or not Anders Behring Breivik is sane.

Breivik arrived in court for Monday’s opening session in Oslo amid tight security and massive media attention, although the first day was mostly expected to focus on a run-through of the charges and technicalities of the trial as well as on Breivik’s plea.
The 33-year-old has been charged with “acts of terror” and 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.

Upon his entrance to the court, Breivik lifted his right fist in an apparent far-right salute.

“I do not recognise the Norwegian courts. You have received your mandate from political parties which support multiculturalism”, Breivik told the court. “I do not acknowledge the authority of the court.”

Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, the lead judge responded, telling Breivik that he would have time to make statements later on in the trial.

Breivik looked down as the prosecutor read out a list of those killed and how they had died during the July 2011 attacks.

Breivik has confessed to a car bombing outside a government building in central Oslo which killed eight people and the subsequent killings of 69 people, most of them teenagers, during a shooting spree on the nearby island Utoya where Norway’s ruling Labour Party was holding a youth summer camp.

His lawyers say he will plead not guilty and argue that his actions were “cruel but necessary”.

Breivik has said he acted alone and in self-defence against those he considered to be “state traitors” for opening Norway up to multiculturalism and allowing a “Muslim invasion” of Europe.

The trial is expected to focus on whether or not Breivik is criminally sane and accountable for his actions, which would determine if he was to be sentenced to prison or sent to a closed psychiatric ward.

A first court-ordered psychiatric exam found him insane, while a second opinion came to the opposite conclusion.

Five judges will consider psychiatric evaluations presented to the court, with a verdict expected to be handed down in July.

But many Norwegians feel Breivik will use the trial as a showcase for far-right views expounded in a more-than 1,500-page document published online prior to the attack. In that self-styled manifesto, Breivik described a trial as offering “a stage to the world”.

The proceedings in the specially-adapted Oslo District Court were being broadcast live to 17 local courthouses around the country to accommodate more than 770 survivors and families of victims figuring as plaintiffs.

The size of the trial is unprecedented in the Scandinavian country’s history.

Source: Al Jazeera


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