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Friday 23 June 2017

PM pledges that Norway will not be intimidated into silence

A mourner weeps at the funeral of Bano
Abobakar Rashid – the first victim of the
shooting rampage – in Nesodden, near
Oslo, yesterday. Photo: AP
A mourner weeps at the funeral of Bano Abobakar Rashid – the first victim of the shooting rampage – in Nesodden, near Oslo, yesterday. Photo: AP

Tony Paterson in Oslo

Norway held the first funerals for the victims of the country's devastating Utoya island massacre and Oslo city centre bombing yesterday as police interrogated the self-confessed killer for the second time.

The centre of Oslo was covered in bouquets of flowers and candles yesterday afternoon as the city stood still for a minute's silence in memory of the 77 mostly teenage victims of Anders Behring Breivik's double-attack a week ago.

Police confirmed that a 69th victim had died in hospital after being wounded during Breivik's shooting spree on the island.

Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's 52-year-old Labour Party prime minister, marked the occasion by attending a memorial service in the city's cathedral along with most of his cabinet.

Hundreds stood in front of a carpet of flowers outside the building commemorating those killed. Many were in tears.

Speaking from a stage covered with red roses, the symbol of his party, Mr Stoltenberg pledged that Norway would not allow itself to be shocked or intimidated into silence.

Bravery

Of the survivors of the massacre, he added: "The bravery these young people have shown is catching. We are going to answer hatred with love and honour our heroes for ever."

Flags around the country flew at half-mast. Norway has suspended import tariffs on roses because Norwegian producers have been unable to meet demand for the flowers.

The service coincided with the first funerals of the youth members of the Norwegian Labour Party who were shot dead by Breivik while attending a party youth camp on Utoya island, north of Oslo, last Friday.

Breivik was taken yesterday from the Oslo prison where he has been held in solitary confinement since he was captured and returned to police headquarters for a second interrogation.

During seven hours of questioning after his arrest a week ago, he had claimed that he singled out Labour youth members because he detested the party's liberal attitudes; he said its tolerance of immigrants was fostering "Muslim world domination".

Police said the dossier resulting from his first questioning was already 50 pages long.

"We are confronting him with the contradictions he made during his first interrogation," Pal Kraby, Oslo's head of police investigations, told reporters. He added that Breivik had behaved "calmly" during questioning and was "more than willing to explain everything".

There was renewed speculation that Breivik's plans to commit terrorist attacks went further than had been previously assumed. Geir Lippestad, his lawyer, who specialises in far-right crimes, revealed that Breivik had "other plans of varying dimensions".

He said that Breivik had told him that, apart from planting a bomb in the centre of Oslo, he had also wanted to bomb two other, unspecified buildings.

Mr Lippestad added that Breivik had carried out the attacks under the influence of stimulants.

State prosecutors have said his trial will not begin until next year.

An opinion poll indicated that support for Labour leapt about 10 percentage points in the days after the attacks, when Mr Stoltenberg won praise for his calm handling of the crisis.

At the same time, support for the populist, right-wing Progress Party, of which Breivik was once a member, fell.

Irish Independent

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