Anders Behring Breivik: I was defending the Norwegian people
NORWEGIAN far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik has demanded an acquital for his brutal terror attacks last July last year, arguing that he was acting to protect Norwegians.
"The 22nd July was a preventive attack in defence of my ethnic group, and I cannot acknowledge guilt," he told the court. "I acted on behalf of my people, my religion and my country. I therefore demand that I be acquitted."
More than 30 relatives of victims stood up and walked out of the courtroom when the self-confessed killer began to speak, ending a gruelling 10-week trial in which the Nordic nation has tried to come to terms with the worst atrocity in its post-war history.
"He has a right to talk. We have no duty to listen," Christian Bjelland, the vice chair of the support group for survivors of the July 22 attacks and victims' families, said before the final session.
Before Breivik's statement, the court applauded Kirsti Lovlie, as she spoke of life without her daughter Hanne, who died in the attack. Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen wiped away tears.
"This is my court," she said. "This man will no longer scare me. He will never come out. I do not waste much time and effort on this man, and I think I will live well with what has happened here."
Lara Rashid described how moved she had been by the public support at the funeral of her elder sister Bano, who was also killed on the island.
"Bano did not die in vain. She died for the multicultural Norway," she said. " The funeral gave me motivation. The multi-cultural Norway that I'm so proud of, it showed me that he failed."
Breivik admits to killing eight people when he bombed government buildings in Oslo, before shooting young Labour Party supporters at an island camp, killing 69 more.
He warned that others would follow in his footsteps.
"My brothers in the Norwegian and European resistance movements are sitting there and watching this case while they are planning new attacks," he said "They may be responsible for as many as 40,000 deaths."
So unlikely was Breivik's defence that his lawyer Geir Lippestad required prompting from Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen before mentioning it.
"Oh yes. I forgot that. It is here on my notes," he said.
Instead, he argued that Breivik had a "human right" to be punished in prison for his brutal terror attacks last July, as he pushed against the prosecution's a recommendation that his his client face "compulsory mental health care".
"If we look at basic human rights, and take into account that the defendant has a political project, to see his actions as an expression of illness is to take away a basic human right, the right to take responsibility for his own actions," Defence lawyer Geir Lippestad said.
In Breivik's closing speech he railed against the two psychiatrists who diagnosed him as schizophrenic, leading to his anti-Islamic ideology to be written off as the rantings of a madman.
Breivik has described treatment in a mental hospital as “a fate worse than death” and “the ultimate humiliation”, and has considerably toned down his original rhetoric about the Knights Templar movement to sway the judges.
"July 22 was an inferno of violence," Mr Lippestad said, arguing that Breivik was a far-right extremist who had been "radicalised through contacts on the web."
He dismissed the argument of the first team of forensic psychiatrists that Breivik's belief that he has the "right to decide who should live and die" was a delusion, evidence of schizophrenia.
"He realized that it is wrong to kill, but he chose to kill. That's what terrorists do," Mr Lippestad said. "The ends justify the means."
Mr Lippestad's argument reversed that of Norwegian prosecutor Svein Holden, who argued yesterday that there was enough doubt over whether Breivik was sane when he killed 77 people last July, that he could not recommend a prison sentence.
“It is worse that a psychotic be sentenced to custody than a non-psychotic is sentenced to psychiatric care," Mr Holden argued.
Breivik’s sanity has been the key question for the court, which has to make a decision on the basis of two contradictory official psychiatric reports, the first of which diagnosed the killer as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and the second of which said he was sane enough to face jail.
If the court decides that he is sane, he faces a maximum sentence of 21 years in jail.
The Oslo district court has said that the panel of five judges will make its final ruling on August 24