Breivik cries in court, claims murder of 77 'self-defense' (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
The trial opened on Monday in Norway’s capital Oslo. Dressed in a suit and wearing a gold-colored tie, Breivik made the clenched-fist salute after he entered the courtroom and his handcuffs were taken off.
When prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh read his indictment on terror and premeditated murder charges, with descriptions of how each victim died, Breivik was asked whether he acknowledges the charges.
”I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt,” he told the court, and said he had acted in self-defense.
Throughout the reading he remained stone-faced and motionless, showing no compassion. However, when his propaganda video created for YouTube was shown in court, he broke down crying, emotions finally taking over.
(AFP Photo / Odd Andersen, AFP Photo / Pool / Heiko Junge)
Breivik had rejected the authority of the court altogether before even going on trial.
"I don't recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism," Breivik said in his first comments to the court.
He had told investigators he is a resistance fighter in a far-right militant group modeled after the Knights Templar – a Western Christian order that fought during the crusades. The police say they’ve found no trace of this organization.
The “clenched-fist salute” with which Breivik met the court, is described in the 1,500-page manifesto he posted online shortly before the Utoya island attacks as the gesture of the Knights Templar organization.
Anxious to prove he is not insane, Breivik has called on right-wing extremists and radical Islamists to testify. He says this will show that there are others who share his views on clashing civilizations.
Dagbladet, one of Norway's major newspapers, has set up a version of its website with a button that removes any mention of the trial. The move acknowledges that there is some revulsion at the prospect of Breivik getting a platform from which to air his ideology.
And with a public trial, Breivik is effectively getting exactly what he wanted – a platform for his extreme far-right ideas, Glyn Ford, a former chairman of the European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry into “The Growth of Racism and Fascism in Europe,” told RT.
“It is unfortunate but that is just the way the justice system works in the European Union and Norway,” Ford said. “He will clearly have his opportunity to express his own views. One just hopes that the overwhelming majority of people will reject them for what they are.”
Strategic analyst Helge Luras of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs says last year's attacks have dragged the immigration debate out of the shadows.
“It has been somewhat an uncomfortable topic for years – not widely discussed and, perhaps, kept out of the public eye,” he told RT. “But now, since Breivik’s attack… it’s been very much at the forefront – not necessarily discussing immigration as such but discussing whether we should discuss it at all.”
Luras added that, indeed, many Norwegians are concerned about increased numbers of immigrants coming into the country every year, in addition to others who welcome them.
Breivik killed eight people in a bombing in Oslo's government district, and later 69 in a shooting massacre at Norway’s left-leaning Labor Party's youth camp on Utoya island outside the capital on July 22, 2011.
The key issue to be resolved during the 10-week trial is the state of this man's mental health, which will decide whether he is sent to prison or to psychiatric care. If deemed mentally competent, he would face a maximum prison sentence of 21 years.
In a country that “respects law and order,” a court should indeed determine first whether Breivik is sane enough to stand trial, Danish Free Press Society president Lars Hedegaard told RT.
“Two psychiatrists from Norway, well regarded psychiatrists, declared him insane, legally insane,” Hedegaard said. “In other words not a man you can convict in court of law but a man who belongs in an insane asylum. The strange thing was that the court decided to have a second opinion on this, which is rather unusual. And beyond that even, the Prime Minister of Norway, Mr. Stoltenberg, came out and said that he certainly would like it if the court decided that he was sane.”
Breivik will testify on Tuesday, but it will not be broadcast. His lawyer said his own explanation was crucial to help determine whether he is sane.
One of the two weapons Breivik used on the island.