On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik first set off a car bomb outside the government buildings in Oslo, Norway, killing eight people. Breivik then traveled to the small island of Utoya northwest of the capital where he spent more than an hour methodically shooting and killing another sixty-nine people, mostly teenagers. Breivik has admitted to the killings but plans to argue self-defense at trial which was scheduled to begin April 16, 2012. Breivik has written according to his attorney, Geir Lippestad, a written presentation that will take an hour. Breivik handed his lawyers a copy of the presentation, which runs more than 8,000 words. His trial is expected to last ten weeks.
During trial, Breivik is set to testify for five days, explaining why he went on a killing rampage. Breivik has confessed to the attacks that occurred on July 22, and claimed they were done because it was necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims. The only remaining key issue that remains unresolved is Breivik’s mental health. The thirty-three-year-old Norwegian was found insane in one examination that recommended him to compulsory psychiatric care, while a second assessment found him mentally competent to be sent to prison. The judges in Oslo’s district court will decide which diagnosis they find most credible. If the original diagnosis is upheld by the court it means that Breivik cannot be sentenced to prison. The prosecution may instead request that he be detained in a psychiatric hospital. Medical advice will then determine whether the courts decide to release him at some later point. If considered a perpetual danger to society, Breivik can be kept in confinement for life. Shortly after the second period of psychiatric observation prior to the trial was begun the prosecution stated that they expected that Breivik would be declared legally insane. However, on April 10, 2012 the second psychiatric evaluation was published with the conclusion that Breivik was not psychotic during the attacks and he was not psychotic during their evaluation
In a manifesto Breivik published online before the attacks, Breivik wrote that “patriotic resistance fighters” should use trials “as a platform to further our cause.” Breivik claims he targeted the government headquarters in Oslo and the Labor Party youth camp to strike against the left-leaning political forces he blames for allowing immigration in Norway. Breivik told investigators that he is a resistance fighter in a far-right militant group modeled after the Knights Templar medieval crusaders, but police have found no trace of the organization and say he acted alone. In one section of the manifesto entitled "Battlefield Wikipedia" Breivik explains to his followers the importance of using Wikipedia as a venue for disseminating views and information to the general public. According to the leader of the Norwegian chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, an account has been identified which they believe was used by Breivik. Breivik has called right-wing extremists and radical Islamist to testify during his trial, to show there are others who share his view of clashing civilizations.
In the pre-trial hearing in February 2012, Breivik read a prepared statement demanding to be released and treated as a hero for his "pre-emptive attack against traitors" accused of planning cultural genocide. He said, "They are committing, or planning to commit, cultural destruction, of which deconstruction of the Norwegian ethnic group and deconstruction of Norwegian culture. This is the same as ethnic cleansing." Breivik’s defense attorney, Geir Lippestad, said Breivik’s only regret is that the death toll wasn’t higher. Lippestad says, “It is difficult to understand, but I am telling you this to prepare people for his testimony.” The concern for the victim’s families and surviving victims of this senseless act of violence is clear. They will have to relive the horror of July 22, 2011, while Breivik will get exactly what he sought from the beginning, attention and fame to support his supposed cause. However, one can find comfort that it appears the courts of Norway are not giving in to Breivik’s demands, as they have barred Breivik’s manifesto from being read at trial and will not air any of Breivik’s testimony.
Blogger, Criminal Law Brief
Image by J. Stephen Conn