Norway killer ‘insane’ says his lawyer

Lippestad said Behring Breivik “has a view on reality that is very, very difficult to explain.”

The lawyer for the gunman behind last week’s attacks in Norway that killed at least 76 people has said his client appears to be insane.

“This whole case indicated that he is insane,” Geir Lippestad told journalists on Tuesday about Anders Behring Breivik, who has claimed responsibility for Friday’s bomb attack on the Oslo government and subsequent shooting spree on a nearby island.

The lawyer said it was too early to say if Breivik would plead insanity at his trial, adding that his client might oppose this as he felt that only he “understands the truth”.

Lippestad said Breivik had stated he belonged to an anti-Islam network that has two cells in Norway and more abroad.

But police believe Breivik probably acted alone in staging his bloody assaults.

“He hates all Western ideas and the values of democracy …he expects that this is the start of a war that will last 60 years. He looks upon himself as a warrior. He starts this war and takes some kind of pride in that,” Lippestad said. He said he would quit if Breivik did not agree to psychological tests.

First names released

Meanwhile, Norwegian police have released the first four names of people killed in the attacks. The first names included three people killed in the Oslo car bombing and a 23-year-old man who died on the island.

The release of names came even as Justice Minister Knut Storberget deflected criticism that police had reacted too slowly to the shooting massacre, hailing as “fantastic” their work after the attacks.

“It is very important that we have an open and critical approach…but there is a time for everything,” Storberget told reporters after talks with Oslo’s police chief.

An armed SWAT team took more than an hour to reach Utoeya island, where Breivik was coolly shooting terrified youngsters at a Labour Party youth camp. He killed 68 there and eight in an earlier bombing of Oslo’s government district.

Storberget also denied police had ignored threats posed by right-wing zealots in Norway, saying: “I reject suggestions that we have not had the far-right under the microscope.”

Many Norwegians seem to agree the police do not deserve opprobrium for their response. At a march of more than 100,000 in Oslo on Monday night, people applauded rescue workers.

Police defended themselves from suggestions that some alarm bells should have rung about Breivik. The PST security police say Breivik’s name appeared only once, on an Interpol list of 50 to 60 Norwegians, after he paid 120 crowns ($22) to a Polish chemicals firm on a watch list. They found no reason to react.

Researchers doubt Breivik’s claim that he is part of a wider far-right network of anti-Islam “crusaders”, seeing it as bragging by a psychopathic fantasist who has written that exaggeration is a way to sow confusion among investigators.

‘Not psychotic’

Yngve Ystad, a Norwegian forensic psychiatrist and adviser to the police, said it was unlikely that Breivik would be found to be psychotic and thus unaccountable for his actions, or would even be able to claim diminished responsibility.

“He had planned the crime and he was not in that way disturbed by psychotic or delusional ideas because this has been going on for a very long time and, according to the press, he has not been disturbed or suffered severe disturbances.”

Prosecutors will consider whether Breivik’s acts fall under a 2008 law on crimes against humanity, said Staale Eskeland, professor of criminal law at Oslo University.

“To kill a group of civilians systematically is the basic criteria” for charges of crimes against humanity, he said, adding that the maximum penalty for this offence was 30 years in jail, rather than 21 years under the anti-terrorism law.

In both cases the sentence can be extended for up to five years at a time if there is risk of repeat offences.

So far Breivik has been charged with “destabilising or destroying basic functions of society” and “creating serious fear in the population”.

Police attorney Christian Hatlo has said Breivik expects to spend the rest of his life in jail.

In signs that police are sceptical that Breivik was part of a wider network, border controls imposed on July 22 were lifted late on Monday.

Norway has not asked other countries to launch probes, nor has it raised the threat level for terrorism.

Even the final entry in Breivik’s own 1,500 page manifesto said on July 22: “The old saying: ‘if you want something done, then do it yourself’ is as relevant now as it was then.”

“Intuitively, it feels like he is alone when you read the document. It’s like he’s lost in this made-up world and can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality,”  Magnus Ranstorp, Research Director at the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, said.

“They (mass killers) are usually alone,” he said.

Ragnhild Bjoernebekk, a researcher at Norway’s police school, said Breivik was disconnected from his victims.

“He has no empathy, he is indifferent to the people he kills, he has no conscience and no remorse.”

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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