• Norway edition
 
Massacre survivors seek 'only justice' for Breivik
Photo: Paal Sørensen

Massacre survivors seek 'only justice' for Breivik

Published: 13 Apr 2012 09:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Apr 2012 09:40 GMT+02:00

On Friday July 22nd, hundreds of Labour Party youths attending a summer camp were trapped on the small island of Utøya surrounded by icy waters, trying to dodge bullets that whistled across the island for some 75 endless minutes, with Anders Behring Breivik determined to kill as many of them as possible.

 
Despite the loss of 69 of their friends, the Utøya survivors, most of them teenagers, are now remarkably free of hatred ahead of the start of the rightwing extremist's trial on Monday in Oslo.
 
"It's important that we don't let the terrorist change the values we had before the attacks," survivor Bjørn IIhler told AFP.
 
Just nine months ago, this now 20-year-old managed to save his life and that of two young boys by playing a macabre game of hide-and-seek with the gunman.
 
"I ran across the island every which way to try to avoid Breivik. And in the end, I had these two boys with me, aged eight and nine," he recalls.
 
"When we were at the southern tip of the island, Breivik came up behind us and told us he was a police officer, that we were safe. Then he opened fire on our group. We jumped into the water and we swam to get out of his line of sight," he added.
 
Ihler and his two charges were found by police, crouching in shrubbery on the shores of the island strewn with lifeless bodies.
 
Norwegians were later startled to discover that their country's penal code called for a maximum of 21 years in prison for "acts of terror", prompting some people to call for tougher laws. But not Ihler.
 
"Breivik tried to attack the rule of law and for me it's more important to preserve the system that he wanted to destroy than to change that system to keep him in prison," he explains.
 
He is convinced that Breivik, who also killed eight people when he set off a car bomb near the government headquarters in Oslo in the name of a crusade against "the Muslim invasion" of Europe and multiculturalism, will one day be a free man.
 
"We have a legal principle aimed at, whenever possible, reintegrating convicted people back into society. It will be very difficult in this case and emotionally very hard for me and the other survivors. But we have to hold onto our values," he says.
 
Surprisingly, the large majority of Utøya survivors who have spoken out publicly refuse, like Ihler, to compromise on existing principles and reject the idea of introducing special legal exceptions for Breivik. But few share Ihler's conviction that Breivik will one day be set free.
 
If the killer is found criminally insane and not accountable for his actions, he will be sentenced to closed psychiatric care, possibly for life. 
 
And if he is found accountable, a special provision makes it possible for him to remain behind bars beyond the maximum 21 years called for by the law as long as he poses a threat to society.
 
"The most important thing for me is that this person never again will be a danger to people around him or society and I am very confident that the Norwegian judicial system will make that possible," says Eskil Pedersen, the head of the Labour Party's youth movement.
 
Also on Utøya the day of the massacre, he was able to flee on board a small ferry linking the island to the mainland.
 
"I'm quite confident that the people who will decide whether or not he is a danger to his surroundings will find it very difficult to come to the conclusion that he is not," he added.
 
Magnus Haakonsen, another survivor, says "we need to have a fair verdict that we won't need to be ashamed of in the future."
 
On July 22nd, the strapping, jovial 18-year-old saw bullets whiz around him.
 
He first hid in the crevice of a cliff, then fled the island by swimming almost two kilometres (1.25 miles) before he was picked up by a boat a stone's throw from land.
 
"It doesn't matter to me whether Breivik ends up in prison or in a psychiatric ward. The important thing is that the right solution is found for his situation," he tells AFP.
 
"If he is a sick man, he should be entitled to psychiatric care. If he's not, he should go to prison," he adds.
 
Breivik's mental health and whether he will be sent to prison or psychiatric care will be the main issue in the trial.
 
A first psychiatric examination concluded that he was criminally insane, but that diagnosis was contradicted in a second opinion that found him sane. Ultimately, it will be up to the judges to decide.
 
Magnus Haakonsen says he has already gotten his "revenge."
 
"Me, I see my friends, I'm getting my high school diploma, and I'm going on to university. Him, he's all alone in his cell."

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.no)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Brevik's father to write book
Publisher Arve Juritzen promoting the new book from Anders Behring Breivik's father, Jens Breivik. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Brevik's father to write book

Jens Breivik, father of jailed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, is set to publish a book detailing his role as the father of Norway's most infamous terrorist. READ  

Man arrested in Øyer fire death case
Police search for the killer Bjarte Hansen of in Øyer. Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB scanpix

Man arrested in Øyer fire death case

A friend of the man wanted for the killing of Bjarte Hansen in Øyer last week is under arrest and charged with helping assist in the murder, it was announced on Tuesday. READ  

Car crashes into Oslo shopping mall
A car lost control and rammed into Kiellands Hus shopping centre in Oslo. Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix.

Car crashes into Oslo shopping mall

A driver was lucky to be alive after crashing his car into a shopping centre entrance in Oslo on Tuesday. READ  

Norway's first drunk on a Segway charged

Norway's first drunk on a Segway charged

The Norwegian government lifted its ban on Segways in July, but it was only a matter of time before police caught their first drunk driver on a two-wheel vehicle. READ  

Ødegaard set for Norway international debut
Martin Ødegaard. Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder / NTB scanpix

Ødegaard set for Norway international debut

Fifteen-year-old Martin Ødegaard has been called up to the Norway football team for the friendly against the United Arab Emirates on August 27. READ  

Princess Ingrid starts her first day at new school
Princess Ingrid Alexander (centre) arrives with family for her first day at her new school on Tuesday. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

Princess Ingrid starts her first day at new school

Princess Ingrid Alexandra was welcomed by pupils and staff at her new private school in Oslo on Tuesday. READ  

Strike teachers on full pay as pupils go without
Schools, like this one in Trondheim, brief pupils about the disruption caused by the Norway teachers' strike. Photo: Ned Alley / NTB scanpix

Strike teachers on full pay as pupils go without

Teachers striking across Norway are receiving full pay from their union who boast a strike fund of more than 1 billion kroner, it was revelaed on Tuesday. READ  

Football coach kicks out wife to focus on match
Malmö manager Åge Hareide. Photo: Conny Sillén / NTB scanpix

Football coach kicks out wife to focus on match

The Norwegian football coach Åge Hareide admitted on Monday asking his wife to leave so he could focus on winning a crunch qualifying game and a place in the Champions League. READ  

Serial chicken smuggler caught in Norway

Serial chicken smuggler caught in Norway

A Swedish man has been apprehended trying to smuggle half a tonne of frozen chicken into Norway by car on Monday. READ  

Øyer fire death: Police hunt missing step-son
Kim Andreas Kristiansen is wanted for his step father's murder in Øyer. Photo: Police / NTB scanpix.

Øyer fire death: Police hunt missing step-son

The stepson of a man found burned to death in Øyer on Thursday was formally charged with his murder on Sunday and is now missing, sparking a police hunt for his capture. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Swiss bus driver charged with careless driving in fatal Norway crash
Society
Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Norway
National
Norway lifts Segway ban
Culture
GALLERY: Ten great songs about Norway
Society
Høie promises to reform sex change law
Education
Norway fjord invaded by monster jellyfish
Culture
VIDEO: Norwegian anti-Facebook film goes viral
Culture
Norway pop duo hits number 4 on US charts
Sport
Norway fan wins big on Suarez bite bet
National
Solberg 'most chatty' leader on Twitter
Culture
British Airways takes 'Slow TV' to the skies
International
Top Norway lawyers back Snowden Nobel
Society
Buy your own Viking warship for just €160,000
Politics
Norway PM beats Candy Crush level 300
Culture
Norway sticks with fårikål as national dish
International
Cold bathing craze leads to teen death
Society
Sweden threatens to 'annex' the ostehøvel
National
Baby squirrels survive cat attack
Society
Norway's 'cushy' prisons spurring foreign cons
National
Half Norwegians overweight: Gates study
International
VIDEO: Jagland doing press-ups in Donetsk
Business & Money
Striking Norway barbers: 'Let your hair grow'
Culture
Rihanna 'hard to please', Norway's Stargate reveal
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

317
jobs available