Intel chief apologizes but keeps job

The head of Norwegian intelligence agency PST apologized on Friday for making misleading statements after the mass killings by a right-wing extremist in July, but said she did not intend to resign.

Intel chief apologizes but keeps job
Photo: Ingar Sørensen (File)

"As head of PST, I apologize. I take the responsibility as head of PST and I will remain head of PST," Janne Kristiansen, who had been forced to cut short a trip abroad to respond to swelling criticism, told a news conference.

The PST has been criticised for its failure to detect the self-confessed perpetrator of the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, despite the fact that he was flagged to them before he went on his deadly rampage.

In December last year, the PST received a list from Norwegian customs containing 41 names of people who had bought chemical products over the Internet from a Polish company.

Right-wing extremist Behring Breivik — who prosecutors said on Tuesday has been declared criminally insane — was on the list for a purchase worth just 121.22 kroner ($21).

According to a US customs report obtained by Norwegian media, the July 22nd attacks could have been prevented with better coordination between police and customs officers.

The July killings of 77 people were the deadliest attacks in Norway since World War II, and profoundly shocked the normally tranquil nation.

On July 25th, Kristiansen insisted publicly that existing rules did not authorise her agency to register Behring Breivik in its files on the basis of the information they had received, but said the PST had checked all the names on the customs list against its files.

"Even Stasi (secret police) in East Germany would not have been able to detect this person," she said at the time — a statement she has already had to apologize for.

However, it turns out that the PST was in fact authorised to temporarily register Behring Breivik in its files — for up to four months — and that there is no log of the agency actually checking up on the 41 names on the customs list.

"I was inaccurate in the prevailing situation, a situation that was unclear," Kristiansen said on Friday.

The populist right-wing and anti-immigration Progress Party, which once counted Behring Breivik as a member, had demanded that she step down.

In the July rampage, the attacker first set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people.

He then went to the island of Utøya, northwest of Oslo, where, disguised as a police officer, he spent nearly an hour and a half methodically shooting and killing another 69 people attending a summer camp, most of them teenagers.

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Kongsberg attacker killed victims with ‘sharp object’

Norwegian police said Monday that the five victims of last week's attack were killed by a "sharp object" used by the suspect, not a bow and arrows.

The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident.
The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen on Flickr.

“At some point he discarded or lost his bow and arrows,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters.

He said that during the attack on Wednesday the suspect killed “five people with a sharp object both in private addresses and in public spaces”.

Police, who had previously said that the suspect Espen Andersen Brathen was armed with a bow and arrows and two other weapons, did not specify the nature of the sharp weapons, adding that they were still interviewing witnesses.

“Everything points to the victims being selected at random,” Omholt said.

According to the police, more than 10 people were also shot at with arrows at the start of the attack, but none were killed with this weapon.

READ MORE: Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

During police questioning, Brathen has confessed to the killings and to wounding three others.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen has announced publicly that he is a convert to Islam and initially police reported that there had been fears of radicalisation.

He is however being kept in a medical facility pending a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Brathen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

“As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” Omholt added.

On Saturday, police announced the identities of the five victims, four women and one man: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.