The terror trial against an anti-Muslim fanatic who confessed to killing 77 people in Norway starts Monday, April 16 amid worries that he will use the proceedings to showcase his radical views.
According to AP, after opening statements, Anders Behring 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.
Since Breivik has confessed to the July 22 attacks – claiming they were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims – the key issue that remains unresolved is his mental health. The 33-year-old Norwegian was found insane in one examination that recommended committing him to compulsory psychiatric care, while a second assessment found him mentally competent to be sent to prison. It’s up to the judges in Oslo’s district court to decide which diagnosis they find most believable.
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.
Those who survived the shooting massacre are bracing for the horror to return during the trial. Police will seal off streets around the court building, where journalists, survivors and relatives of victims can watch the proceedings in a 200-seat courtroom built specifically for the trial. Thick glass partitions have been put up to separate victims and their families from the defendant.
Norway’s NRK television will broadcast parts of the trial, but is not allowed to show Breivik’s testimony.
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.”
Anxious to prove he is not insane, Breivik has called right-wing extremists and radical Islamist to testify during the trial, to show that there are others who share his view of clashing civilizations. His defense lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said Breivik’s only regret is that the death toll wasn’t higher.