Anders Breivik Pleads Not Guilty at Norway Murder Trial

NEW YORK | Monday, April 16th, 2012 9:45am EDT

The Norwegian far-right gunman who killed 77 people has pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial in Oslo.

Anders Breivik Pleads Not Guilty At Norway Murder Trial 01

Wearing a dark suit, the murderer smiled as he entered the courtroom and a guard removed his handcuffs. He then gave a closed-fist salute. Photo: Noticiário notícias/Flickr

Anders Behring Breivik attacked a youth camp on the island of Utoeya, where the youth wing of the governing Labor Party was holding a summer camp, after setting off a car bomb in the capital. He told the court he “acknowledged” the acts committed, but refused to accept criminal responsibility.

The 33-year-old Norwegian is to stand trial and in case the court decides he is criminally insane, he will be committed to psychiatric care; otherwise, he will be jailed. In the latter case, he faces a sentence of 21 years, which could be extended to keep him in prison for the rest of his life.

Breivik was found insane in one examination, while a second assessment made public last week found him mentally competent, reports BBC.

The first words of the killer, when he entered the court room, were: “I don’t recognise Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism.”

The gunman added he doesn’t recognise the authority of Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen, as, according to him, she is friends with the sister of former Norwegian prime minister and Labour party leader Gro Harlem Brundtland.

As the grisly evidence unfolded Breivik stayed mostly impassive, and at one point seemed to discreetly stifle a yawn. Only as the court viewed a video that Mr. Breivik had made before the attacks to publicize his cause, did he break down in tears, dabbing at his face, writes The New York Times.

When asked by a judge whether he wished to plead guilty, the killer responded, “I acknowledge the acts, but I don’t plead guilty, as I claim I was doing it in self-defense.” He had previously denied criminal responsibility on the grounds that he was protecting Norway from Islamic immigration.

Breivik seemed bored while following without visible emotion the list of his killings as the prosecutor read out each one. Some details were so awful that Norwegian television bleeped out descriptions of the massacres.

Breivik shot most of his victims several times, often using the first shot to take down his target then following up with a shot to the head. He later surrendered as “commander of the Norwegian resistance movement”.

“There’s shooting all the time, I’ve seen many injured. He’s inside!” Renate Taarnes screamed, as 13 people in the cafe were shot dead. “He’s coming … he’s coming!” Then there was only the sound of shots being fired.

The only moment when the murderer became tearful occured when he was watching a movie of still pictures accompanied by text of his vision of evils of “multiculturalism” and “Islamic demographic warfare”.

“I think he feels sorry for himself,” said Mette Yvonne Larsen, one of the lawyers representing victims. “His project didn’t work out, that’s why he’s crying. He’s not crying for the victims … he’s crying over his extremely childish film.”

The trial is scheduled to last 10 weeks and has raised fears that it could reopen wounds in Norway, a country that sees itself as a tolerant and peaceful society writes Reuters.

“It will be a tough time for many,” survivor Vegard Groeslie Wennesland, 28, said outside the courtroom. “Last time I saw him in person he was shooting my friends.”

In a recent letter Breivik said: “The court case looks like it will be a circus … it is an absolutely unique opportunity to explain the idea of (the manifesto) to the world.”

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