Trial Ends in Oslo for Mass Killer as Judges Must Rule on Sanity
The trial of Anders Behring Breivik ended in Oslo as the judges now must decide whether the man responsible for the worst peace-time massacre in Norwegian history is sane enough for prison.
Breivik, who killed 77 people in twin attacks on July 22, was unapologetic to the end, as victims and family cried in the downtown court room on the last day of the 10-week proceedings.
The attacks “were a pre-emptive strike,” the 33-year-old said in a final statement. “I acted on the principle of necessity on behalf of my culture, my people and my country. I ask to be acquitted of the charges.”
The Oslo native has been subjected to two mental evaluations, the first of which found him insane and unfit for prison, and a second which deemed him to be fit. Breivik, who’s fighting to be found sane in order to further his political arguments, has said the murders were “gruesome but necessary” to fight multiculturalism and the spread of Islam.
In the trial’s great paradox, the prosecution yesterday recommended that the confessed murderer be given compulsory care as reasonable doubt existed over whether he could be held accountable. If found sane, Breivik may be sentenced to 21 years in jail with five-year extensions for as long as he’s deemed a danger. An insanity ruling could place him in a secure mental hospital indefinitely.
Judges Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen and Arne Lyng and the lay judges will consider the evidence before delivering the sentence on Aug. 24, they said today.
“If you accept my plea of cultural and political necessity you will send a shockwave around Europe,” Breivik told the judges. “History will tell whether they sentenced a person that tried to stop the evil of the times.”
Prosecutors Svein Holden and Inga Bejer Engh yesterday stuck to their initial recommendation that Breivik be found criminally insane, saying that either way he would have an “unlimited” sentence imposed on him.
“In our opinion, it’s worse that a person who’s psychotic is sent to preventative detention than a person who’s not psychotic is sent to mental health care,” Holden said.
Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s attorney, in his closing argument today rebutted the prosecution, saying his client was driven by “extremism” and not by a need to commit violence. It’s just as bad to place a sane person in treatment, he said.
Three out of four Norwegians said Breivik is sane enough to be sent to a normal prison, NRK reported yesterday. Only one in 10 of the 1,000 surveyed by Norstat said Breivik is so ill that he should be sentenced to compulsory psychiatric care, the state-owned broadcaster said.
Breivik, who’s said he won’t appeal if he’s found sane, is a “very extreme, odd and malfunctioning person,” Cathrine Groendahl, a lawyer representing 10 of his victims, said in an interview last week. “It’s more likely he’s narcissistic with an antisocial personality disorder than psychotic.”
Breivik last July killed 69 people -- some as young as 14 - -- at a Labor Party youth camp on the island of Utoeya, having earlier detonated a car bomb by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office in Oslo, taking eight lives.
“It’s important he’s seen in the context of the right wing movements that inspire him,” said Groendahl. “Pure evil and extreme, political motivation should not be defined as psychosis.”
The killer has been indicted on two terror charges as well as murder. He has said his actions were necessary to prevent war in Europe and called his victims “traitors” to Norway.
Lara Rashid, who fled from Iraq in 1994 and was on Utoeya when her younger sister Bano was shot and killed, told the court today that Breivik had failed.
“Bano did not die in vain,” she told crying friends and relatives today. “She fought for a multicultural Norway and at her funeral she showed that an Imam and a priest can stand together.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Myers in Oslo at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonas Bergman at email@example.com