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Mass murderer Breivik is not insane -- doctors

The right-wing extremist who admitted killing dozens in Norway is unlikely to be declared legally insane because he appears to have been in control of his actions, the head of the panel that will review his psychiatric evaluation has said.

The decision on Anders Behring 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.



SIMPLE

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

"It's not very likely he was psychotic," Dr Rygnestad said.

The forensic board must review and approve the examination by two court-appointed psychiatrists before the report goes to the judge, who will then decide whether Breivik can be held criminally liable. Dr Rygnestad said a psychotic person could only perform simple tasks.

Even driving from Oslo to the lake where Breivik opened fire at a political youth camp, would have been too complicated.

"If you have voices in your head telling you to do this and that, it will disturb everything, and driving a car is very complex," Dr Rygnestad said. "How he prepared" for the rampage -- meticulously acquiring the materials and skills he needed to carry out his attack while maintaining silence to avoid detection -- argues against psychosis, Dr Rygnestad added.

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

On July 22, he set off a car bomb that killed eight people in Oslo's government district, then drove north to a youth camp on Utoya, a small lake island set amid quiet countryside.

There, he spent 90 minutes executing 69 people, mostly teenage members of the youth wing of Norway's governing Labour Party.

In a 1,500-page manifesto released just before the attacks, Breivik describes his two-pronged attack as the opening salvos of a new crusade that, by 2083, will purge Europe of Muslims and the "cultural Marxists" he complains are letting them have the run of the continent.



BARS

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, his defence attorney Geir Lippestad said, hinting at a possible insanity defence.

"This whole case has indicated that he's insane," Mr Lippestad said last week.

If tried and convicted of terrorism, Breivik will face up to 21 years in prison or an alternative custody arrangement that could keep him behind bars indefinitely.

If he is declared insane, a judge could order him institutionalised in a psychiatric ward only so long as he is deemed mentally ill.

hnews@herald.ie


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