Islamists and far right on Breivik witness list

The lawyer for Norwegian confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik said on Monday he would call right-wing extremists and Islamists, including a radical jailed mullah, as witnesses in support of his client at this month's trial.

Islamists and far right on Breivik witness list
Mullah Krekar (File photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix)

Defence attorney Geir Lippestad said the idea of calling extremists like Mullah Krekar, who founded the radical Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam and has been sentenced to five years in prison for making death threats, was important to show that his client was not criminally insane.

An expert evaluation determined late last year that Behring Breivik was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, but the 33-year-old far-right extremist who has confessed to killing 77 people in twin attacks last July insists he is sane.

"We have to determine if the experts who evaluated Breivik mistakenly blew off his ideas and opinions, especially about an ongoing war (between Islam and the West), as paranoid hallucinations and a psychosis," Lippestad told reporters.

"The question is to know if there are in fact groups, even small ones, in Norway who agree (with his premise). That could be important when it comes to the question of legal responsibility," he added.

Behring Breivik, who has claimed to be on a crusade against multi-culturalism and the "Muslim invasion" of Europe, wants to be declared of sane mind, according to his lawyers, so as not to damage the political message presented in his 1,500-page manifesto published online shortly before the July 22nd attacks.

During the trial, which will begin on April 16th, the defence attorneys will therefore, upon their client's request, try to prove that he is sane even though their success would entail that he be locked away in prison instead of a psychiatric institution.

On Monday, Lippestad refused to reveal the "30 to 40" names on the list of witnesses the defence plans to call, but he confirmed that Mullah Krekar was on it.

The 55-year-old mullah, who has lived in Norway since 1991, was last week sentenced to five years in prison for making death threats against, among others, a former government minister.

The far-right Norwegian blogger "Fjordman," one of Behring Breivik's mentors, will also be called to the witness stand, Lippestad said, stressing though that the defence does not intend to enable a free-flow of "political propaganda," as his client appears to wish.

"Calling witnesses from extremist milieus is important because we think that the psychiatric experts perhaps do not have the necessary knowledge" to distinguish ideological extremism from a psychiatric disorder, he said.

The defence will place a special emphasis on calling medical and psychiatric witnesses who are likely to testify that Behring Breivik is of sound mind, Lippestad said.

The psychiatric experts' conclusion last year, which if confirmed would entail that the confessed killer is locked up in a psychiatric institution instead of prison, caused outcry in Norway and an Oslo court ordered a second evaluation by two new experts, who will present their findings on April 10th.

In the end, however, it will be up to the five Oslo court judges to determine whether Behring Breivik should be considered sane when they present his verdict, probably around the middle of July.

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

He then went to Utøya island northwest of Oslo, and, dressed as a police officer, spent more than an hour methodically shooting and killing another 69 people, mainly teenagers, attending a summer camp hosted by the ruling Labour Party's youth wing.

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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.