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Shock as 'insane' killer Breivik is declared unfit for trial

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2013-07-16

Norwegians have reacted with shock and dismay after prosecutors said they agreed with a report saying Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in July, was mentally unfit to stand trial.

Norway reacted with “outrage” and “surprise” on Tuesday after prosecutors said mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was schizophrenic, psychotic and unfit to stand trial.

Breivik killed 77 people in his July killing spree which involved a bomb attack in central Oslo, and a subsequent shooting rampage at a summer camp for the youth wing of the ruling Labour Party.

If the court accepts the prosecution's position that he is insane, he will be transferred to a mental institution, potentially for the rest of his life.


Survivors of the massacre, elements of the media and also politicians said on Tuesday that they were concerned justice could not be done if he escapes a criminal trial.

The 32-year-old killer, who previously said he was on a crusade against multi-culturalism and the "Muslim invasion" of Europe, has admitted the facts but refuses to plead guilty because he claims the killings were “necessary”.

Sondre Lindhagen Nilssen, a 17-year-old who survived Breivik’s killing spree, told Norwegian daily Aftenposten he was “surprised and disappointed” by the announcement.

He said: “I attended Breivik’s first court appearance and witnessed him admitting to what he did.

“He knows full well what he has done. He may live in his own world, but his actions have affected the real world and they will continue to do so.”

Meanwhile, the populist right-wing and anti-immigration Progress Party, of which Breivik was once a card-holding member, demanded a second psychiatric evaluation.

"It is completely incomprehensible and surprising that an individual who has planned these acts in such detail and who has proven himself capable of carrying them out should be declared unaccountable," vice-party chair Per Sandberg told the VG daily's online edition.

Mental ruling ‘no easy way out’

Business reporter Sverre Rorvik Nilsen, who witnessed the bombing in Oslo, told FRANCE 24 that the “outrage” expressed by the media and the public was only to be expected. But he said he didn’t believe people were looking for revenge.

“That would not undo what happened,” the E24 journalist said. “Naturally, [Breivik] will never be a free man ever again. There is no doubt about this.”

Nilsen also said that being committed to a mental institution was no escape from punishment, which carries a potential full-life term in a country where the maximum sentence for a criminal offence is limited to 21 years.

"A life in a mental hospital is not at all an easy way out,” he said. “It’s said to be harder on the mind to be around insane people for the rest of your life.”

He added: “The one thing [Breivik] fears the most is to be deemed insane, as he just was.”

Breeding projects for Norwegians

The two psychiatrists who spent 36 hours interviewing Breivik concluded that he had developed schizophrenia and was psychotic at the time of the attacks.

They reported that the gunman believed he was the “most perfect knight” since the Second World War.

He also claimed his organisation, called the Knights Templar after the medieval religious order, would go on to take power in Europe.

The report stated that Breivik had volunteered himself as a possible future regent of Norway. 

He also declared that he intended to conduct breeding projects with Norwegians and to organise them into racially pure enclaves.

Breivik may yet stand trial

While the prosecution has accepted the psychiatrists’ findings, they are not final, according to Franck Orban, a researcher at the Norwegian Ministry of Justice.

Orban explained that a nine-member forensic medicine board must now review the report, and that such panels usually uphold the conclusions of court-appointed psychiatrists.

“But this is a very high profile case,” he told FRANCE 24. “It should also be noted that the court can challenge psychiatric evaluations, order new tests or appoint new psychiatrists.”

If the report is upheld, Breivik will be committed to a secure mental health institution and his case reviewed every three years.

If he is ruled sane, he would then have to be re-arraigned and stand trial.


Date created : 2011-11-29


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