The lawyer for mass killer Anders Behring Breivik said Tuesday that his client appeared to be “insane” after the 32-year-old Norwegian justified his bombing and shooting spree as a necessary action against "cultural Marxism" and Islam.
REUTERS - The lawyer of a Norwegian who killed at least 76 people in a bombing and a shooting spree said on Tuesday his client appeared to be a madman.
Friday’s attacks by Anders Behring Breivik traumatised normally peaceful Norway, which has been struggling to come to terms with its worst peace-time massacre of modern times.
“This whole case indicated that he is insane,” lawyer Geir Lippestad said of the 32-year-old Breivik, who has confessed to “atrocious but necessary” actions, but denies he is a criminal.
The lawyer said it was too early to say if Breivik would plead insanity at his trial, adding that his client might oppose this as he felt that only he “understands the truth” and a need, as he sees it, to combat “cultural Marxism” and Islam.
“He is of the view that he will be seen as a demon now but that people will thank him in 60 years,” he said. Breivik’s writings speak of a crusade to 2083, 400 years after the battle of Vienna when Christians began to defeat the Ottoman Empire.
Lippestad said Breivik had stated he belonged to a radical network that has two cells in Norway and more abroad. But police believe Breivik probably acted alone in staging his bloody assaults, which have united Norwegians in revulsion.
Lippestad, a member of the Labour party whose youth wing was the target of his client’s shooting rampage on an idyllic island, said he would quit if Breivik did not agree to psychological tests.
He was previously best known for defending a right-winger who in 2002 got 17 years in prison for the racially motivated murder of Benjamin Hermansen, 15, whose father was African.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama sent a message of condolence to the Norwegian ambassador’s residence, saying he was “heartbroken by the loss of so many people, particularly youth with the fullness of life ahead of them”.
Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget deflected criticism that police had reacted too slowly to the shooting massacre, hailing their work after the attacks as “fantastic”.
An armed SWAT team took more than an hour to reach Utoeya island, where Breivik was coolly shooting terrified youngsters at a Labour Party youth camp. He killed 68 there and eight in an earlier bombing of Oslo’s government district.
Gunman's father: an 'incomprehensible' act
Storberget also denied police had ignored threats posed by right-wing zealots in Norway, saying: “I reject suggestions that we have not had the far-right under the microscope.”
Many Norwegians seem to agree the police do not deserve opprobrium for their response. At a rally of more than 200,000 in Oslo on Monday night, people applauded rescue workers.
The streets were full of red and white roses left after the rally, Norway’s biggest since World War Two.
Oslo police published the first names of the dead on Monday evening—three who were killed in Oslo and one on the island. The official list would be expanded daily, they said.
Norwegian newspapers have already published more names—the youngest was 14. Many were teenagers or in their early 20s.
Norway has felt some relief that Breivik seems to have acted alone in trying to save Europe from “cultural Marxism” and a “Muslim invasion” by striking at the ruling Labour Party that he blamed for allowing multiculturalism.
Storberget told Reuters television that Norway had received a “hard lesson” but would remain an open and free democracy, even as it made unspecified changes to improve security.
“We don’t want this horrible man to change Norway,” said Lars Andersen, a retired military officer. “And he won’t. People aren’t talking about revenge but uniting behind our values.”
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere and Crown Prince Haakon visited a Mosque on Tuesday evening to reaffirm a rejection of Breivik’s views. Many people wrongly initially suspected that Al Qaeda had been behind Friday’s bombing.
Police defended themselves from suggestions that some alarm bells should have rung about Breivik. The PST security police say Breivik’s name appeared only once, on an Interpol list of 50 to 60 Norwegians, after he paid 120 crowns ($22) to a Polish chemicals firm on a watch list. They found no reason to react.
Researchers doubt Breivik’s claim that he is part of a wider far-right network of anti-Islam “crusaders”, seeing it as bragging by a psychopathic fantasist who has written that exaggeration is a way to sow confusion among investigators.
Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto said he went to a meeting in London in 2002 of the “Knights Templar Europe”, a group that experts doubt exists but say cannot be dismissed out of hand.
“Err of the side of caution,” said Martin Feldman, who runs the Radicalism and New Media Research Group at the University of Northampton and is a leading expert on right-wing extremism in Britain.
Yngve Ystad, a Norwegian forensic psychiatrist and adviser to the police, said it was unlikely that Breivik would be found to be psychotic and thus unaccountable for his actions, or would even be able to claim diminished responsibility.
“He had planned the crime and he was not in that way disturbed by psychotic or delusional ideas because this has been going on for a very long time and, according to the press, he has not been disturbed or suffered severe disturbances.”
Prosecutors will consider whether Breivik’s acts fall under a 2008 law on crimes against humanity, said Staale Eskeland, professor of criminal law at Oslo University.
“To kill a group of civilians systematically is the basic criteria” for charges of crimes against humanity, he said, adding that the maximum penalty for this offence was 30 years in jail, rather than 21 years under the anti-terrorism law.
In both cases the sentence can be extended for up to five years at a time if there is risk of repeat offences.
So far Breivik has been charged with “destabilising or destroying basic functions of society” and “creating serious fear in the population”. Police attorney Christian Hatlo has said Breivik expects to spend the rest of his life in jail.
In signs that police are sceptical that Breivik was part of a wider network, border controls imposed on July 22 were lifted late on Monday. Norway has not asked other countries to launch probes, nor has it raised the threat level for terrorism.
Even the final entry in Breivik’s own manifesto says on July 22: “The old saying: ‘if you want something done, then do it yourself’ is as relevant now as it was then.”
Date created : 2011-07-26