• Norway's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Massacre survivors seek 'only justice' for Breivik

The Local/AFP · 13 Apr 2012, 09:40

Published: 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.
Story continues below…
 
"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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Eurovision 2016
Norway's Eurovision hope struggles with mental 'hell'
Although she is struggling mentally, Agnete Johnsen said she is still in it to win it. Photo: Julia Nagelstad/Eurovision

21-year-old singer Agnete Johnsen has cancelled all public appearances ahead of next week's contest.

Child welfare or 'kidnapping'? Parental anguish in Norway
Foreign parents who say Barnevernet 'kidnapped' their children protested in Oslo last month. Photo:Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB Scanpix

Recent global protests have put Norway's child welfare services back squarely in the centre of controversy.

Norway to send 60 soldiers to train Syrians fighting Isis
Norwegian troops are already training Kurdish peshmerga fighters in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold/Forsvaret

Nordic nation ups its efforts in anti-Isis coalition.

No distress call in Norway helicopter crash
The pilots reportedly gave an "everything okay" update shortly before the crash. Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix

UPDATED: The pilots in Friday’s fatal helicopter crash did not send out a distress call before the aircraft went down, indicating that there was no time to react.

Norway's oil fund to take on executive pay controversy
If the fund takes a stance on executive pay, it could be felt in corner offices around the world. Photo: Iris/Scanpix

Norway could greatly influence the global debate on CEO salaries with a change to its investment strategies.

Looming strike could paralyse Norway public services
Representatives of the four large trade union confederations and state representative Gisle Norheim (centre). Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

The state is "very far" from a labour agreement with some 100,000 public employees.

All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
Rescue crews reported no signs of survivors. Photo: Marit Hommedal/Scanpix

UPDATED: Eleven dead bodies have been recovered and the two remaining people are presumed dead.

Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
A throw-back photo before the beard and hair reached their full potential. Photo: Lasse Matberg/Instagram

Hot enough to melt snow, this apparent reincarnation of Thor has captured hearts the world over.

Norway's sovereign fund posts negative return
Yngve Slyngstad, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, posted a negative return in the first quarter after being tapped by the government to balance its budget for the first time ever.

Philippine troops attack Norwegian hostage's captors
Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad (right) in a still from a previous video released by SITE. Photo: Screen Grab

Philippine warplanes on Thursday attacked Islamic militants holding a Norwegian and 19 other foreign hostages.

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
Norway violated mass murderer's human rights: court
Norway to allow gay church weddings
Society
Church of Norway to allow same-sex weddings
Norway to allow gay church weddings
Society
Church of Norway to allow same-sex weddings
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Society
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Health
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
National
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Memo: Norway 'not mentally prepared' for refugees' impact
Norway is the world's fourth happiest country
Society
Norway is the world's fourth happiest country
Norway moves closer to allowing dual citizenship
National
Norway moves closer to allowing dual citizenship
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose International Health Insurance
Politics
Norway's tough asylum plans face resistance
National
'Patriot' group Soldiers of Odin debut in Norway
National
Oslo is the real ‘Capital of Scandinavia’
Health
Norway ads use Hitler teddy bear to scare parents... about dust
National
Migrants: Norway 'sending us to death' in Russia
Norway under fire over tough new asylum plans
Health
Norway doctors push plan for 'tobacco-free generation'
2,079
jobs available