Breivik admits massacre but pleads not guilty
OSLO, Norway (AP) — The right-wing fanatic who admitted to killing 77 people in Norway has pleaded not guilty in court to terror and murder charges saying he was acting in self-defense.
After rejecting the court’s authority, Anders Behring Breivik said Monday that he admits to the bombing in Oslo and a shooting massacre on Utoya island outside the capital on July 22.
Breivik told the court: “I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
OSLO, Norway (AP) — The right-wing fanatic who confessed to killing 77 people in a bomb-and-shooting massacre went on trial in Norway’s capital Monday, defiantly rejecting the authority of the court.
Anders Behring Breivik, dressed in a dark suit, smiled as a guard removed his handcuffs in the crowded court room. The 33-year-old then flashed a closed-fist salute, before shaking hands with prosecutors and court officials.
“I don’t recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism,” Breivik said in his first comments to the court.
Breivik also said he doesn’t recognize the authority of Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen, because he said she is friends with the sister of former Norwegian Prime Minister and Labor Party leader Gro Harlem Brundtland.
The anti-Muslim militant described himself as a writer, currently working from prison, when asked by the judge for his employment status.
After opening statements Monday, Breivik is set to testify for five days, explaining why he set off a bomb in downtown Oslo, killing eight, and then shot to death 69 people, mostly teenagers, at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya island, outside the Norwegian capital.
Breivik has admitted to the attacks, claiming they were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims, but has rejected criminal guilt. He claims he targeted the government headquarters in Oslo and the youth camp to strike against the left-leaning political forces he blames for allowing immigration in Norway.
Breivik remained stone-faced and motionless as prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh read his indictment on terror and premeditated murder charges, including descriptions of how each victim died.
The key issue to be resolved during the 10-week trial is the state of Breivik’s mental health, which will decide whether he is sent to prison or to psychiatric care.
If deemed mentally competent, he would face a maximum prison sentence of 21 years or an alternate custody arrangement under which the sentence is prolonged for as long as an inmate is deemed a danger to society.
Police sealed off the streets around the court building, where journalists, survivors and relatives of victims watched the proceedings in a 200-seat courtroom built specifically for the trial.
Thick glass partitions were put up to separate the defendant from victims and their families, many of whom are worried that Breivik will use the trial to promote his extremist political ideology. In a manifesto he published online before the attacks, Breivik wrote that “patriotic resistance fighters” should use trials “as a platform to further our cause.”
Norway’s NRK television will broadcast parts of the trial, but it is not allowed to show Breivik’s testimony.
Breivik told investigators he is a resistance fighter in a far-right militant group modeled on the Knights Templar medieval crusaders, but police have found no trace of the organization and say he acted alone.
Anxious to prove he is not insane, he has called right-wing extremists and radical Islamists to testify during the trial, to show that there are others who share his view of clashing civilizations.
Breivik surrendered to police 1 hour and 20 minutes after he arrived on Utoya. The police response was slowed by a series of mishaps, including the lack of an operating police helicopter and the breakdown of an overloaded boat carrying a commando team to the island.
Associated Press writers Bjoern H. Amland and Julia Gronnevet contributed to this report.