Walkout on final day of Breivik trial
The trial of the worst mass murderer in Norway's peacetime history ended today with Anders Behring Breivik saying his bombing and shooting rampage was necessary to defend the country in comments that prompted a walkout by relatives of his victims.
A total of 77 people were killed in the single day of violence last July 22nd, which Breivik said was a strike against Norway's increasingly multicultural society.
Final arguments in the 10-week trial revolved around the question of whether the self-proclaimed anti-Muslim militant was a lunatic or not. His defence lawyer said in closing arguments that Breivik was sane and had the right to be punished for what he believed was a political act.
The prosecution had argued on Thursday that Breivik was insane. If the judges agree, he will be destined for a mental institution instead of a prison.
"I think we all can agree that on July 22, a barbaric thing happened," Breivik said in a rambling closing statement. "I remember that on July 21, I thought after many years of planning, that tomorrow I will die . . . and what is it I will die for?"
Breivik had confessed to the killing rampage in which he first detonated a bomb outside government headquarters in Oslo that killed eight bystanders, then systematically gunned down 69 people, many of them teenagers, at a summer camp run by the ruling Labour Party on the island of Utoeya.
He did not, however, accept the charges of terrorism and murder, saying that the attacks were on "traitors" whose leftist views and soft policy on immigration had damaged the country and that he was acting to defend the Norwegian people.
In his closing statement today, Breivik again tried to justify his actions and hit out at what he saw as the ills of modern Norway.
"My brothers in the Norwegian and European resistance are sitting out there following this trial, while planning new attacks. They could be responsible for as many as 40,000 being killed," Breivik said. He also ranted against multiculturalism and drew mocking laughter when he said that having non-ethnic Norwegians representing the country in the recent Eurovision Song Contest was a sign of its "self-hatred".
As Breivik prepared to begin his last statement, a number of people walked out of the courtroom."We have no need to hear more about what he has to say," Trond Henry Blattman, leader of a victims' support group, told broadcaster TV2.
"We have heard him many times, we don't hear anything new . . . we want to show that we don't care about what he has to say, who he is, what he has done."
The court has also to weigh up conflicting psychiatric reports on the state of Breivik's mental health. A first report said his acts were inspired by fantasies of violence, while the second said they were motivated by extreme right-wing zeal.
Defence counsel Geir Lippestad said today Breivik wanted to be ruled sane and punished for his actions. "If we . . . take into account that the defendant has a political project, to see his actions as an expression of illness is to take away a basic human right, the right to take responsibility for one's own actions," Mr Lippestad said.
Earlier, Mr Lippestad told Oslo district court the fact “little, safe Norway would be hit by such a terror attack is almost impossible to understand” and this may explain why psychiatric experts reached different conclusions about Breivik’s mental state.
Mr Lippestad told the court that Breivik’s claims of being a resistance fighter in a struggle to protect Norway and Europe from being colonised by Muslims are not delusional, but part of a political view shared by other right-wing extremists. He also rejected assertions by one team of psychiatrists that the driving force behind Breivik’s attacks was a psychotic impulse to kill, rather than a political ideology.
The prosecution said yesterday he was insane and should be committed to a mental institution.
There was also emotion in court as the trial neared its end.Kristi Sofie Lovlie, who lost her daughter Hanne in the explosion in the government building, gave testimony on her feelings during the past 11 months of mourning. Her courage drew applause and moved many to tears, including judges.
"I made a decision. I shall not be afraid of that man. It cannot be dangerous for me to come here. I had to come here for Hanne's sake," Lovlie said."Now, here we are at the end of the road. I am sure that the court will provide us with a just verdict."
The trial has now been adjourned and the five-judge panel will make its ruling on August 24th.