By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Norway has mourned the victims of the twin attacks that killed at least 76 people with a minute of silence, while the 32-year-old Norwegian man arrested for the massacre appeared in court to explain his motives.
Although Anders Behring Breivik has reportedly admitted carrying out the July 22 attacks, he pleaded “not guilty” in the Oslo court, claiming he was not “criminally responsible.”
Kim Heger, the Oslo district court judge in the case, ruled there is enough evidence to charge Breivik with intent to commit an act of terrorism.
“Despite the fact that the accused has acknowledged the actual circumstances, he has not pleaded guilty,” Heger said. “According to what the court understands, the accused believes that he needed to carry out these acts to save Norway and Western Europe from, among other things, cultural Marxism and a Muslim takeover.”
Heger also said Breivik claimed to have worked with “two more cells in the organization.” He said police were probing the claim.
Police meanwhile revised the death toll from the attacks downward from 93 to 76. Eight people were said to have died in the car-bomb attack near government headquarters in Oslo, while 68 died in the gun attack hours later on a political youth camp at Utoeya Island.
Police spokesman Oystein Maeland told reporters that the earlier, erroneous figure emerged while police focused on helping survivors and securing the area.
He warned, however, that the death toll could rise again as the search for bodies continued.
Tens of thousands of people, including Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, gathered in the capital, Oslo, in the hours after the suspect’s court appearance to attend a memorial for the victims.
People, including relatives of a victim, gather to observe a minute’s silence on a campsite jetty on the mainland across the water from Utoeya Island on July 25.
Judge Heger ordered Breivik to be held in custody for eight weeks, including four weeks of solitary confinement, while preparations for the trial continued. Heger ruled there was a risk that Breivik would tamper with evidence if he were released on bail.
Heger also blocked media from attending the hearing — effectively preventing Breivik from using the court as a political platform to air what has been described as an extreme right-wing and anti-Muslim ideology.
“The objective of the attacks was to give a ‘sharp signal’ to the people,” Heger said. “The accused wishes to induce the greatest possible loss to the Labor Party so that it will limit new recruitment in the future. The accused explained that the Labor Party has failed the country and the people, and the price of their treason is what they had to pay yesterday.”
Breivik’s lawyer said Breivik wanted to tell his country and the world why he carried out a bomb attack in Oslo and then went on a shooting rampage at a summer camp for Labor Party youth.
According to his lawyer, Geir Lippestad, Breivik believes the killings were justified, that “the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary.”
The prosecutor in the case, Christian Hatlo, said Breivik had said during interrogation that he was prepared to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Ahead of the court hearing, the memory of the victims was honored across Norway by a minute of silence.
Meanwhile, the stunned nation is trying to come to terms with how a person could kill so many of his fellow countrymen with no apparent remorse.
The profile of Breivik that is emerging from local media reports is of a right-wing Christian extremist who opposes multiculturalism and Islam, and who is angry about the growing number of Muslims in Europe.
Police told the daily “Aftenposten” that Breivik blames the Labor Party’s Gro Harlem Brundtland — prime minister for three terms between 1981 and 1996 — for pluralist immigration policies that have led to the growing presence of Muslims in Norway.
They say Breivik admitted he wanted to kill Brundtland while she was making a speech on Utoeya Island on July 22. Brundtland, who is often called “mother of the nation,” left the island before Breivik arrived.
Other press reports from Oslo are quoting excerpts from a 1,500-page manifesto that Breivik published just hours before the shooting rampage.
That manifesto called for a crusade against Muslim immigration to Europe. It also chronicled the events in Breivik’s life that deepened his contempt for Muslims and “Marxists,” whom he blamed for making Europe multicultural.
According to prosecutor Hatlo, Breivik read from the manifesto during the July 25 closed hearing.
Norway’s police security service has revealed it was alerted in March to a suspicious chemical purchase by Breivik from a Polish firm, but said it didn’t have enough evidence to investigate at the time.
Did He Act Alone?
“Compared to other countries, I will not say that we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway. But we have had some groups,” Stoltenberg said over the weekend.
“We have followed them before and our police is aware that there are some right-wing extreme groups — or at least have been some of that kind — in Norway.”
Journalists also have been researching Internet postings made by Breivik in recent years that show critical views about Islam and Norway’s immigration policies.
Correspondents note that part of Breivik’s manifesto was taken almost word-for-word from the first few pages of the anti-technology manifesto written by Ted Kaczynski, the so-called “Unabomber” who is in U.S. federal prison for sending mail bombs in the United States that killed three people and injured 23 others from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Breivik has claimed that he acted alone and was not part of a larger right-wing extremist group. But police in Oslo say they are still investigating the possibility that Breivik had help from others to plan the attack, or that he has ties to other militant right-wing extremists in the country.
On July 25, police briefly detained six people for questioning in a series of raids in Oslo aimed at finding bomb-making equipment linked to Breivik. None of those raids turned up weapons or evidence justifying the continued detention of those six people.