• Norway's news in English

Breivik pleads 'not guilty' at Oslo court

AFP · 16 Apr 2012, 17:06

Published: 16 Apr 2012 10:38 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Apr 2012 17:06 GMT+02:00

Prosecutors told the courtroom in Oslo that Breivik was responsible for the bloodiest chapter of modern Norwegian history as they read a roll call of his victims, showed footage of his bombing of government buildings, and played an emergency call from a young woman dodging bullets on the Utøya island.

But while Breivik showed no emotion at the evidence of his killings, his eyes welled up as the court viewed a 12-minute anti-Islam film summarising his manifesto which he posted online the day of the carnage.

"I acknowledge the acts, but not criminal guilt, and I claim legitimate defence," the 33-year-old, who is accused of "acts of terror," told the court.

Breivik, dressed in a dark suit and gold-coloured tie, told the judges he did not "recognise the Norwegian court."

Just moments earlier, he had touched his chest and extended his clenched right fist in front of him as his handcuffs were removed on his entry into the courtroom.

In the 1,500-page manifesto he posted online shortly before the July 22nd attacks, Breivik described the gesture as "the clenched fist salute" of the Knights Templar organisation, of which he claims to be a member but which the prosecution argued does not exist.

The defendant remained stoney-faced for almost an hour as prosecutors read aloud a long list of names of the dead and injured and recalled chilling details of his massacre.

But he then lost his composure when his self-made movie was screened.

His face red with emotion, Breivik's lips trembled and he wiped away tears as photographs of Islamists set to music were projected on a large screen.

Some of the survivors and families of the victims said they did not interpret the tears as remorse.

"I personally feel that him crying was basically him being moved by what he had accomplished. It was not a sign of regret at all," John Kyrre Lars Hestnes of the July 22 Support Group told AFP.

Survivors and victims' relatives fought back tears throughout the proceedings.

On July 22nd, Breivik killed eight people when he set off a bomb in a van parked at the foot of government buildings in Oslo housing the offices of Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was not present at the time.

He then travelled to Utoeya island outside Oslo where, dressed as a police officer, he spent more than an hour methodically shooting at hundreds of people attending a ruling Labour Party youth summer camp.

The shooting spree claimed the lives of 69 people, trapped on the small heart-shaped island surrounded by icy waters. It was the deadliest massacre ever committed by a sole gunman.

Prosecutor Svein Holden played a haunting recording of an emergency call to police placed by a young woman on the island, Renate Taarnes, as bullets whizzed around her.

"Come quickly! ... There's shooting all the time," she whispered desperately.

She breathed heavily and several times spoke in an almost inaudible whisper, saying at one point that the shooter was on his way towards her.

Numerous shots could be heard getting closer in the background.

She survived.

Survivors and relatives of the dead also gasped as previously unreleased surveillance footage was shown of people walking towards Breivik's parked van as it exploded outside the government block.

Four court-appointed psychiatrists sitting in the courtroom -- who have drawn two contradictory conclusions about whether he is sane -- observed Breivik to monitor his reactions.

At one point he smiled broadly as prosecutors recalled elements of his past.

The court also heard Breivik's own calls to police asking to give himself up.

"I have completed my operation and I want to surrender," Breivik said in a calm, polite voice after a first call was cut off.

Before police could arrest him, he went on to kill five more people.

"The accused has committed very serious crimes of a degree we have not seen in our country in modern times," one of the two prosecutors, Inga Bejer Engh, told the court.

He "created fear in the Norwegian population."

In the Utøya massacre, she said "there was panic and fear of death among children and adults."

Story continues below…

"He shot at people who were fleeing or hiding, or who he lured out by saying he was a policeman," Engh said, noting that most of the 69 dead were killed by bullets to the head.

Fifty-six of the shooting victims were under the age of 20, and the youngest victim had just celebrated his 14th birthday, she said.

Several relatives of victims cried quietly as they listened to Engh.

The trial was adjourned to Tuesday, when Breivik will start testifying.

It is due to last 10 weeks and focus primarily on whether he is sane and should be sent to prison or a psychiatric ward.

Breivik has previously described his actions as a "cruel but necessary" act of self-defence against those he considered to be "state traitors" for opening Norway up to multiculturalism and allowing the "Muslim invasion" of Europe.

He faces either 21 years in prison -- a sentence that could thereafter be extended indefinitely if he is still considered a threat to society -- or closed psychiatric care, possibly for life.

Breivik wants to be found sane and accountable for his actions so that his ideology and manifesto will not be considered the ravings of a lunatic.

During the trial, "he will not only defend (his actions) but will also lament, I think, not going further," his lawyer Geir Lippestad said last week.

The five judges will have to decide whether he is sane and accountable when they hand down their verdict sometime in July.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Norway's 'effective' border checks extended
All arriving ferry passengers will still be subject to checks. Photo: NTB Scanpix

Norway's 'effective' border checks extended
4 hours ago

The Norwegian government said on Friday it would extend border checks for an additional 30 days.

Every tenth 12-year-old boy in Norway drinks
Photo: Vegard Grøtt / NTB scanpix

Every tenth 12-year-old boy in Norway drinks
6 hours ago

Three percent of boys also say they've been drunk in the past month.

Norway Child Welfare Service faces growing global protests
The Facebook group 'Norway, Give Us Back the Children You Stole' says more than 60,000 people have protested against Barnevernet in cities around the world, including Prague shown here. Photo: Norway,

Norway Child Welfare Service faces growing global protests
9 hours ago

Norwegian embassies around the world have seen demonstrations over what critics say is an over-aggresive child welfare agency.

US rockers to hit Oslo on first tour since Paris attacks
Eagles of Death Metal at a 2007 performance at Øyafestivalen. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / SCANPIX

US rockers to hit Oslo on first tour since Paris attacks
1 day ago

The Eagles of Death Metal will play the Norwegian capital this weekend as they return to the road following the Paris attacks.

Norway issues new Zika advice for pregnant women
File photo. Flickr: coniferconifer

Norway issues new Zika advice for pregnant women
1 day ago

Health officials have new recommendations for minimizing the risk of contracting the Zika virus through sexual conduct.

Extreme Islamism and far-right pose threats to Norway
Justice Minister Anders Anundsen and PST head Benedicte Bjørnland presented the nation's terror assessment in Oslo. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

Extreme Islamism and far-right pose threats to Norway
2 days ago

Although Norway's overall terror threat is slightly decreased there are still several factors that threaten the nation.

Chinese fund offers $1.2b for Norway's Opera web company
Photo: Opera

Chinese fund offers $1.2b for Norway's Opera web company
2 days ago

UPDATED: The world's fifth most used web browser may soon be in Chinese hands.

Russian spying can 'damage' Norway: PST
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Scanpix

Russian spying can 'damage' Norway: PST
2 days ago

In its annual threat assessment, PST said that Russian spies have major “damage potential” for Norwegian interests.

After 36 years, 'mystery films' shown in Norway
The American sent himself the package in 1980 but never picked it up. Photo: Kjell-Erik Ruud/Instagram

After 36 years, 'mystery films' shown in Norway
2 days ago

As proof that sometimes mysteries are better left unsolved, Tuesday’s public viewing of three film reels left unclaimed in a Norwegian hotel for 36 years was somewhat anticlimactic.

How to vote as an American expat in Norway
Even if you won't be anywhere near this ballot box in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire – or anywhere else in the US – you can still take help decide the next US president. Photo: Mike Segar/Scanpix

How to vote as an American expat in Norway
3 days ago

As The US presidential voting season is well underway with the first primary elections in New Hampshire, The Local looks at how American citizens can cast their ballots from outside the US.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
Norway police to go back to being unarmed
Norway ads use Hitler teddy bear to scare parents... about dust
Migrants: Norway 'sending us to death' in Russia
Norway under fire over tough new asylum plans
Norway doctors push plan for 'tobacco-free generation'
Norway's call to remove crosses causes backlash
Norway tightens asylum policy to cut numbers
The end of the expat? European cities fight for innovative 'inpats'
Hiker finds 1,200-yr-old Viking sword in Norway
Oslo eyes ban on private cars from city centre in green push
Family shocked as The Scream appears in a freshly sawn plank
AS-IT-HAPPENED: Nobel Peace Prize announcement 2015
Norway armed forces to get organic underwear
Syrians cross Norway's Arctic border on bicycles
Norwegians reveal the (hilariously inaccurate) origins of the Danish language
Norway man built secret child's room in cellar
Norway starts school for Vikings
Sepp Blatter should win Nobel Peace Prize: Putin
jobs available