Defending lawyer stands by his client
GEIR Lippestad has taken on a seemingly impossible task. The 47-year-old Oslo lawyer is defence counsel for Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old Norwegian who, last Friday, committed the worst single act of violence in the country since World War Two.
Is it possible to defend somebody such as Mr Breivik? Mr Lippestad thinks so, though he admitted yesterday that it took him between 10 and 12 hours to agree to take on the job after being notified by the police that the mass murderer had asked for his services.
"I sat down with my friends and discussed this request," Mr Lippestad said.
"At first I thought it was impossible, then I came to the conclusion that if I say no to this I am actually saying no to democracy."
"Everyone has the right to a defence lawyer," is the mantra that the former local politician has been repeating incessantly to those who have interviewed him since last Friday.
Yet, with his dark suits, black ties and dour facial expression he shows every sign of having complete sympathy with the victims of his client's actions rather than with Mr Breivik himself.
What makes his decision to defend Mr Breivik even more extraordinary is that Mr Lippestad has been a member of the Norwegian Labour Party for years. His client spent last Friday systematically murdering members of the party's youth wing because he believed they were encouraging multiculturalism and the "Muslim domination" of Norway. (©Indep- endent News service)