Second psychiatric test ordered for Oslo gunman

Sat, Jan 14, 2012, 00:00

AN OSLO court has ordered a new psychiatric assessment of Anders Behring Breivik.

Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen yesterday announced the appointment of psychiatric experts Agnar Aspaas and Terje Toerrisen, who will be charged with a new examination of Breivik’s psychiatric health. Judge Arntzen told the press conference that “due to the seriousness of this case, the criminal responsibility of Anders Behring Breivik must be re-examined”.

The court decision was not a reflection of any criticism of the report by Torgeir Husy and Synne Soerheim. That evaluation concluded that Breivik suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was psychotic when he killed 77 people in Oslo and on Utoeya Island in Norway’s on July 22nd last year.

The Husby and Soerheim evaluation was reviewed and upheld by the Norwegian forensic medical commission. Neither the defence nor the prosecution has requested a new assessment.

On the other hand, lawyers acting for some families of the victims and survivors have been asking for a new evaluation for some time. Overall, there are approximately 700-800 plaintiffs involved in the case.

Psychiatrist Randi Rosenqvist, who observed Breivik for five months in Ila prison, and a team of psychiatrists and psychologists from the District Psychiatric Centre in Sandvika have found no indications that Breivik is psychotic and therefore in need of psychiatric treatment.

The mandate for the new report will also differ. Among the aspects to be examined are the connection between Breivik’s political ideology and other possible physical or psychiatric explanations which might explain the brutal events of last summer.

One of the main criticisms of the Husby and Soerheim report was the absence of any detailed examination of Breivik’s ideology as outlined in his 1,500-page manifesto.

New information has also shown that the psychiatric hospital where Husby is head psychiatrist has a diagnosis level of paranoid schizophrenia almost three times the public psychiatric sector average.

Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s lawyer has said his client does not agree and will not co-operate with the new psychiatric assessment.

“If the new experts run into problems with Behring Breivik’s unco-operative behaviour, they can use all the evidence to hand such as police documentation and witness statements especially with regard to the time of the actual crime,” court psychologist Pal Grondahl told Aftenposten.