Sunday 18 March 2018

Killer refuses to plead guilty after massacre

Anders Behring Breivik leaves court
Anders Behring Breivik leaves court yesterday

Neil Tweedie in Oslo

ANDERS Behring Breivik admitted conducting one of the worst peacetime massacres in European post-war history yesterday.

But the 32-year-old Norwegian refused to plead guilty in court, instead laying the blame for the killings on the "treason" of Norway's ruling Labour Party in sanctioning Muslim immigration.

During his first court appearance, held in private to ensure security, Breivik described the killing of 76 people, most of them teenagers enjoying a summer camp, as "an act of conscience".

On Friday the fanatic detonated a huge fertiliser bomb in central Oslo, killing eight, before shooting dead 68 people taking part in a summer camp on the island of Utoya, an hour's drive from Oslo, organised by the youth wing of the Labour Party.

He warned the Oslo city court of "two more cells in our organisation" in an apparent attempt to sustain the fear and uncertainty that has gripped Norway over the past four days.

Outside the court, thousands of Breivik's countrymen gathered to express outrage at his actions, with some calling for his execution.

To ensure the killer's safety he was driven to court in a fast-moving convoy of police 4x4s, arriving via an underpass closed to the public.

Norway observed a minute's silence shortly before the defendant was delivered to court. Later, thousands took part in a mass rally near Oslo's waterfront, many of them holding red roses in a gesture of sorrow.

Breivik was remanded in custody for eight weeks -- the first four in solitary confinement, where he will be denied mail and visits to prevent any communication with accomplices.

Police revised the number of dead in the bomb attack from seven to eight, after the search of a damaged building. The number of dead on Utoya was revised down from 86 to 68 when it was realised that bodies lying in piles had been miscounted.

Breivik's trial could be a year away. He faces an initial sentence of 21 years in prison, the maximum-available sentence under Norwegian law. However, that term can be increased by successive review panels and it is likely that Breivik will serve the rest of his life behind bars.

The minute's silence was declared by Mr Stoltenberg as he stood on the steps of Oslo University, together with King Harald and Queen Sonja, but stretched to five, with thousands standing around a carpet of flowers by Oslo cathedral.

Geir Lippestad, the lawyer defending Breivik, said: "He has been politically active and found out himself that he did not succeed with usual political tools and so resorted to violence."

In a lengthy tract written before the atrocities and published on the internet, Breivik conceded that he would be regarded as a "monster" for his actions.

In that, at least, he has been proven correct. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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