Plaintiffs want new Breivik sanity check

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the July 22nd twin attacks in Norway that left 77 people dead called on Thursday for a new psychiatric evaluation of the gunman, whom experts have found criminally insane.

Plaintiffs want new Breivik sanity check
Photo: Paal Sørensen (File)

In a letter released by the Oslo district court, lawyers representing 56 survivors and families of the victims questioned two court-appointed experts' diagnosis of Anders Behring Breivik which concluded that he was suffering from "paranoid schizophrenia".

That conclusion means Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old right-wing extremist who has confessed to the killings and claimed he was waging a war against the "Muslim invasion" of Europe, will likely be sentenced to psychiatric care in a closed ward instead of going to jail.

"Several of the civil parties who saw him on Utøya (the island where he committed 69 of the killings) found him to be cynical and rational and find this incompatible with the conclusion that he would be psychotic," the lawyers wrote.

On July 22nd, Behring Breivik first set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people.

He then went to Utøya, some 40 kilometres north-west of Oslo, where, disguised as a police officer, he methodically shot and killed another 69 people attending a summer camp, most of them teenagers.

On November 29th, the two court-appointed psychiatrists concluded that Behring Breivik was criminally insane and therefore not accountable for his actions.

That conclusion was later confirmed by a panel of experts.

The Oslo court had given all sides in the case until Thursday to decide whether they wanted a new psychiatric evaluation to be conducted.

The lawyers for the victims noted in their letter that three psychologists and a psychiatrist who have been monitoring Behring Breivik in prison have, according to media reports, seen no signs of paranoid schizophrenia nor suicidal tendencies.

In a separate request, several representatives for other plaintiffs have also requested a new assessment.

But not all were of one mind.

"None of my clients has expressed a wish for new experts to be appointed," said lawyer Christian Lundin who represents 67 plaintiffs.

"The case seems to be pretty well documented," he said. "The appointment of new experts would increase the risk of a delay in the trial, which would be prejudicial for the victims and their families."

Neither the defence nor the prosecution deem a new evaluation necessary, they said on Wednesday.

The court is to decide in mid-January whether to order a new evaluation.

The trial is due to open on April 16th.

There are some 700 to 800 plaintiffs in the case, ranging from survivors and families of the victims to owners of businesses or buildings that suffered material damage in the Oslo blast.

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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.