Not guilty plea in Norway massacre trial

Anders Behring Breivik arrives for the start of the trial. [Reuters]
PHOTO

Anders Behring Breivik arrives for the start of the trial. [Reuters]

VIDEO from Australia Network News

Anders Breivik shows no remorse at trial

Created: 17/04/2012

Last Updated: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:42:00 +1000

A right-wing extremist has pleaded not guilty to committing "acts of terror" when he massacred 77 people in twin attacks in Norway last July.

Anders Behring Breivik, whose trial opened on Monday, welled up in tears as the court viewed a film he posted online the day of the attacks.

His face red with emotion, Breivik's lips trembled and he wiped away tears as the 12-minute film was projected on a large screen, including photos and drawings of Islamists set to music.

Breivik, 33, had previously remained stoney-faced as prosecutors read aloud a long list of names of those killed and injured and the chilling details of his massacre.

He also smiled at one point when prosecutors recalled elements about his past.

Breivik confessed to the killings but entered a plea of not guilty, arguing that he was acting in self defence.

The trial opened amid tight security and massive media attention. Upon arriving in the Oslo courtroom, Breivik made a far-right salute after his handcuffs were taken off.

Lead judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen opened the proceedings, which are expected to last 10 weeks and focus primarily on whether or not Breivik is sane.

Shortly thereafter, Breivik, who presented himself to the court as a "writer", told the judges he did not recognise the court's legitimacy.

"I do not recognise the Norwegian court," he said in a brief statement. He later entered a plea of not guilty.

But he then lost his composure when his self-made movie was screened.

Some of the survivors and families of the victims said they did not interpret the tears as remorse.

"I personally feel that him crying was basically him being moved by what he had accomplished. It was not a sign of regret at all," John Kyrre Lars Hestnes of the July 22 Support Group said.

On July 22 last year, Breivik killed eight people when he set off a bomb in a van parked in downtown Oslo.

He then travelled to Utoeya island outside the city where, dressed as a police officer, he spent more than an hour shooting at hundreds of people attending a youth summer camp.

The shooting spree left 69 people dead, most of them teenagers, and is 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.

'Panic and fear'


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

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

Ms Engh told the court the attacks "created fear in the Norwegian population".

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

"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 proceedings.

Norwegian human rights campaigner Jan Egeland says the trial is stirring mixed emotions in his country.

"Everything that he tried to tear down: which was our rule of law, our human rights, our ideals, they stand. He is given all of the rights he has denied others," he said.

"But of course it's all the wounds being ripped open again, it's a terrible time for the families."

'Cruel but necessary'


Breivik has 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.

Breivik 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.

The confessed killer wants to be found sane and accountable for his actions so that his anti-Islam ideology, as presented in his 1,500-page manifesto, will be taken seriously and not considered the ravings of a lunatic.

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