At least 100,000 people rallied in Oslo and tens of thousands more marched in cities across Norway on Monday in a nationwide expression of grief and unity over the massacre of 76 people by Anders Breivik.
Norway’s King Harald, Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg attended the rally. “Tonight the streets are filled with love,” Crown Prince Haakon told the crowd, gathered to mark opposition to a bombing and shooting on Friday.
He added: “We must meet every day, ready to fight for the values we hold dear. Young people of Norway: You are our hope, our courage – you decide how Norway will be in the years to come.”
He was followed by the prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg: “We will not let fear break us! The warmth of response from people in Norway and from the whole world makes me sure of this one thing: evil can kill a single person, but never defeat a whole people. The strongest weapon in the world – that is freedom of expression and democracy. “
Initially the event was a parade through the streets of Oslo, but due to the vast number of people showing up the march itself was cancelled. Instead people wandered through the streets carrying flowers. Rallies were also being held in other cities around the nation.
Earlier on Monday, Breivik appeared in court, accepting responsibility for the attacks but denying terrorism charges. He told a judge in a closed hearing on Monday his bombing and shooting rampage aimed to save Europe from a Muslim takeover, and said that “two more cells” existed in his group.
He had wanted to wear a uniform – a request the judge denied – and to read a speech to try to justify his actions. Judge Kim Heger ruled that the hearing should be held behind closed doors on the grounds Mr Breivik might have used it to send signals to accomplices.
Prosecutor Christian Hatlo said Mr Breivik now claimed he had worked in a cell, or group, and that there were two other cells working with him.
Although police sources say other groups are unlikely, Mr Hatlo said he “cannot completely, and I stress completely, rule out that others were involved in what happened”.
Mr Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, told NRK television his client had expected to be shot dead by angry Norwegians on his way to court.
“He has a completely different perception of reality than us other Norwegians, for instance he thinks that torture exists in prisons in Norway,” Mr Lippestad said.
Mr Breivik was remanded in custody for eight weeks, the first four in full isolation. He cannot receive letters or have visitors except for his lawyer.
Mr Hatlo said the accused was very calm at the hearing, appeared “unaffected” by the events, and was willing to explain his motives. He said Mr Breivik was allowed to do this to a certain extent by the judge, but when he started reading from his manifesto he was stopped.
Instead Judge Heger summarised Mr Breivik’s words in his post-hearing statement. The judge said Mr Breivik had argued that he was acting to save Norway and Europe from “Marxist and Muslim colonisation”.
The gunman had said his operation was not aimed at killing as many people as possible but that he wanted to create the greatest loss possible to Norway’s governing Labour Party, which he accused of failing the country on immigration.
Meanwhile, Norwegian police revised down the death toll from Friday’s bomb and shooting attack to 76 people from a previous estimate of 93, citing difficulties in gathering information at Utoeya island, where the shooting spree occurred.
Police told a news conference on Monday the confirmed death toll at Otoeya now stands at 68. At the same time people killed in the bomb attack was raised to eight. “This figure of 68 is a decrease compared to earlier numbers of deaths given,” National Police Commissioner, Oeystein Maeland said.
“What I would like to say in this connection is that the police and other rescue personnel had a very demanding job on the island just after they arrived and it was necessary to give priority to those who were injured and to secure the whole area. In this complex situation the number of deaths first reported were too high,” Maeland added.
He said some of the dead bodies might have been counted twice in the chaos. “The dead people were lying partly in heaps and it might have been that some victims were counted twice.”
“It’s hard to tell exactly what the reason for this wrong number. But I think the situation was chaotic as I said and that the priority was given to help those who were injured made the number uncertain,” Maeland said. [via The Telegraph (UK), BBC and Reuters]