Police lost 16 minutes going to Utøya: report

Norwegian police could have arrived at the scene of Anders Behring Breivik's shooting rampage 16 minutes earlier if they had not been plagued by communication and procedural problems, a report said on Friday.

Police lost 16 minutes going to Utøya: report
Vidar Refvik, Olav Sønderland (Photo: Scanpix)

The claims were contained in an evaluation written by a local police committee which has not been published but was leaked to Norway's Dagbladet daily.

At a news conference on Friday, a top police officer labelled the report a "theory" and said police acted "as quickly as possible."

"In the eyes of the evaluation committee, the policemen in question did not hesitate in the least before acting against the author or authors of the attacks on Utøya as soon as they had the practical possibility," said Olav Sønderland, who headed the committee.

"In situations of deep crisis, time for planning and thinking is limited," he added.

Behring Breivik killed a total of 77 people on July 22nd, most of whom died when he embarked on a shooting spree on the island of Utøya, some 40 kilometres northwest of Oslo.

He had earlier set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people.

Behring Breivik, who claimed to be on a crusade against multi-culturalism and the "Muslim invasion" of Europe, was disguised as a police officer when he spent nearly an hour and a half methodically shooting and killing the 69 people attending a summer camp, most of them teenagers, on Utøya.

Police came in for criticism after the attacks, in particular over the relatively distant launch point for an intervention force deployed to the island, as well as the choice of a simple rubber dinghy, which was overloaded and broke down.

Now in custody at the high-security Ila prison near Oslo, Behring Breivik, 32, is scheduled to go on trial on April 16th.

A psychiatric evaluation of the confessed killer concluded late last month that he suffered from "paranoid schizophrenia".

If confirmed by a panel of experts and the Oslo court, that conclusion will most likely mean Behring Breivik cannot go to prison but instead will be sent to a closed psychiatric institution for treatment.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.