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POLICE

Victims’ families want Breivik locked up forever

Families of Anders Behring Breivik's victims in last year's Norway attacks disagree on whether he is sane, but ahead of Friday's verdict they see eye-to-eye on one thing: that he should be locked up for life.

Victims' families want Breivik locked up forever
Unni Espeland Marcussen's 16-year-old daughter Andrine was killed on Utøya (File photo: Stian Lysberg Solum/Scanpix)

"If this person is not legally responsible for his actions, were the Nazis?" asked Claude Perreau, who was devastated after his son Rolf Christopher, 25, was gunned down by the 33-year-old right-wing extremist.

Perreau believes Breivik is sane enough to go to prison.

"He may be someone who is a misfit in society but he's not crazy, given how he calculated and how he spent two years preparing his crime," he told AFP.

On July 22nd 2011, Breivik set off a car bomb outside the government offices in Oslo, killing eight people, before going to the island of Utøya, north-west of the capital, where he spent more than an hour slaughtering another 69 people, mostly teenagers, attending a Labour Party youth camp.

The spectacular attacks shocked the normally tranquil nation, highlighted the authorities' lack of preparedness, and sparked a debate about the killer's mental health.

In its verdict due on Friday, the Oslo district court is to decide whether Breivik is criminally responsible and whether he should be sentenced to prison, as requested by the defence, or to a closed psychiatric ward, as sought by the prosecution.

"For me, the important thing was always that he be found responsible because that's what seemed most fair. Everything he did seemed so carefully and evilly planned," Unni Espeland Marcussen, who lost her 16-year-old daughter Andrine on Utøya, told daily Aftenposten.

"But it's not as important now. I think that the prosecution presented their closing arguments pedagogically and I understand better the reasons why the accused must enjoy the benefit of the doubt," she said.

During the 10-week trial which concluded on June 22nd, a slew of psychiatric experts took turns on the witness stand and most of them had diverging views.

A first court-ordered psychiatric evaluation concluded that Breivik was suffering from a psychosis but a second opinion found that he was sane enough to be sent to prison.

The prosecution argued therefore that there was sufficient doubt about his mental health for him to be ordered to undergo psychiatric care, contrary to Breivik's own expressed wish to be sent to prison.

He wants to be found sane so that his Islamophobic and anti-multicultural ideologies are not seen as the ravings of a lunatic.

"The verdict doesn't matter much, what's important to us is that he be excluded from society forever," insisted Perreau.

Among the family members, no one wants to see Breivik a free man one day.

"It's also for his own sake: there are so many people who lost loved ones, parents, children, or brothers and sisters, that he wouldn't be safe if he were released," stressed Christin Bjelland, the vice president of a support group for families of the victims.

Breivik's lawyer Geir Lippestad has noted that 'life in prison' does not exist in Norway — though inmates considered a threat to the public can be held indefinitely — and said society must one day be prepared to welcome Breivik back.

"When you have a cancerous cell, you try to remove it. You don't try to cure it and put it back in your body," retorted Perreau.

"There's no reason to reintegrate him. Society has nothing to gain from that."

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POLICE

Norwegian police end emergency carrying of arms

The temporary arming of all police in Norway, ordered after an attack in Kongsberg left five dead, ended on Friday morning. 

Police in Norway will no longer be armed after the temporary order was dropped. Pictured is a police van in Oslo.
Police in Norway will no longer be armed after the temporary order was dropped. Pictured is a police van in Oslo. Photo by David Hall on Flickr.

The order for all police in Norway to be armed following an attack in Kongsberg last week was lifted on Friday morning. 

The police said in a statement Friday that, based on the information it had received from police security service PST, there was no longer any basis for maintaining the national armament order. 

“Norwegian police are basically unarmed in daily service, with firearms being stored in police vehicles, and police can be armed in connection with specific missions when needed. In that sense, we are now moving to a normal situation,” Tone Vangen, emergency preparedness director for the police, said in a statement

The police had been armed since last Wednesday following the incident in Kongsberg where Danish citizen Espen Andersen Bråthen killed five with an undisclosed sharp object and shot at police with a bow and arrow.

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

Police said earlier this week that the victims were chosen at random. The Danish citizen was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Bråthen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

The 37-year-old had previously announced publicly that he had converted to Islam and police initially reported that there had been fears of radicalisation. 

But police later said that mental illness was to be considered the primary motive for the attack. 

 “As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said to reporters earlier this week. 

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