Sunday 4 December 2016

Anders Behring Breivik is not insane, says expert

Published 01/08/2011 | 08:01

Anders Behring Breivik , left, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo Monday July 25. Photo: PA
Anders Behring Breivik , left, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo Monday July 25. Photo: PA
A Norwegian woman pay respects for the victims of attacks outside the Oslo cathedral yesterday
Women pay respects for the victims of attacks

The Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik is unlikely to be declared insane because he appears to have been in control of his actions, the head of his assessment panel has claimed.

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The decision over Breivik's mental state will determine whether he can be held criminally liable and punished with a prison sentence or sent to a psychiatric ward for treatment.

The July 22 attacks were so carefully planned and executed that it would be difficult to argue they were the work of a delusional madman, said Dr Tarjei Rygnestad, who heads the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine.

In Norway, an insanity defence requires that a defendant be in a state of psychosis while committing the crime with which he is charged. That means the defendant has lost contact with reality to the point that he is no longer in control of his actions.

The forensic board must review and approve an examination by two court-appointed psychiatrists before a judge will decide whether Breivik can be held criminally liable.

Dr Rygnestad said a psychotic person can only perform simple tasks. Even driving from Oslo to the island where Breivik opened fire at a political youth camp would be too complicated.

By his own account, the 32-year-old spent years plotting the attack.

On July 22, he set off a car bomb that killed eight people in Oslo, then drove north to Utoya island. There, he shot 69 people, mostly members of the youth wing of the governing Labour Party.

Breivik, who is being held pending trial, has admitted to the facts of the case, but denies criminal guilt because he believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and Europe from Islam and "cultural Marxists", his lawyer has said, hinting at a possible insanity defence.

Breivik has reportedly demanded to be appointed head of Norway's armed forces. In the lastest round of interrogation, Breivik made the demand as one of the conditions that he set for telling police about other right-wing cells he claimed are about to launch attacks, Norway’s NRK public broadcaster said.

Other demands included the abdication of King Harald V and the resignation of the Labour Government.

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