Norwegian Killer Anders Breivik Declared Insane and May Avoid Jail

Psychiatrists have found that Anders Behring Breivik was insane at the time of his attacks on downtown Oslo and Utoya Island.

Anders Behring Breivik has been declared insane by Norwegian psychiatrists. Photo: Víctor Edgardo/Flickr

A psychiatric evaluation of the self-confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has found that he was insane during his bombing and shooting attacks in which 77 people were killed in Norway, prosecutors said.

Prosecutor Svein Holden says the report shows Breivik was “psychotic” during the attack.

If that assessment is upheld by the court then Breivik cannot be sentenced to prison for the attacks.

“The conclusions of the forensic experts is that Anders Behring Breivik was insane,” Svein Holden, a prosecutor, said, adding that Breivik had been in a state of psychosis during his attacks.

The two psychiatrists, Synne Serheim and Torgeir Husby, delivered their finding to the Oslo district court on Tuesday morning.

“We have no doubt when it comes to our conclusions,” Husby told reporters as he submitted the report.

“It was a lot of work, demanding,” Husby said, adding: “He has cooperated well.”

The psychiatrists spent a total of 36 hours talking to Breivik and also watched recordings of police interrogations with him, said Torgeir Husby, one of the psychiatrists who evaluated him. He added that Breivik was cooperative.

The 243-page report will be reviewed by a panel from the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine, which could ask for additional information and add its own opinions.

The head of that panel said earlier that it was unlikely Breivik would be declared legally insane because the attacks had been so carefully planned and executed.

If a court agrees with the assessment, Breivik, who described himself as an anti-Muslim militant, will not get a prison sentence but will be subjected to compulsory psychiatric care, lawyers said.

In Norway, an insanity defence requires that a defendant be in a state of psychosis while committing a crime. It supposes that the defendant has lost contact with reality to the point of no longer being in control of their actions.

Norway’s penal system is based, perhaps more than in other countries, on the principal of rehabilitation rather than punishment. It does not have the death penalty and the maximum criminal sentence is 21 years.

Breivik has admitted setting off a car bomb outside the government offices in Oslo on July 22, killing eight people, before going on a shooting rampage on the nearby island of Utoya where the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing was hosting a summer camp.

Sixty-nine people, mostly teens, died in the shooting massacre and police have said they found 186 empty shell casings strewn around the island.

Breivik had developed paranoid schizophrenia and was psychotic at the time of the attacks, Holden said, adding that his condition was persisting. In their report the psychiatrists described many different forms of “bizarre delusions”.

“They especially describe what they call Breivik’s delusions where he sees himself as chosen to decide who shall live and who shall die, and that he is chosen to save what he calls his people,” said Holden.

“Breivik has stated that he committed the murders, or executions as he calls them, because of his love for his people.”

In a manifesto he published on the internet just before the attacks, Breivik said he was on a “crusade” against Islam and professed his hatred for Western-style democracy, saying it had spawned the multicultural society he loathed.

Breivik could legally be freed if declared healthy. “If he is not psychotic and does not pose a danger to society, then his sentence cannot be upheld,” prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh told the news conference.

If the court accepts the psychiatric evaluation, Breivik would still be put on trial but could not be jailed. He could face court hearings every three years to determine if he needs to remain committed to a psychiatric institution, and could be held for life if he remained a threat. [via The Telegraph, Guardian and MSN]

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