A Norwegian anti-immigration radical has admitted to killing 77 people at youth camp in July, but he denied any guilt, saying he was a military commander in a far-right resistance movement.
Anders Behring Breivik, who spoke in open court for the first time on Monday, sat with his eyes mostly downcast and occasionally bit his lip in a packed hearing to extend his pre-trial detention period.
At one point Breivik attempted to address survivors of Norway’s biggest modern-day massacre, but the judge cut him off.
“I am a military commander in the Norwegian resistance movement and Knights Templar Norway,” Breivik told the court.
It was the 32-year-old’s first public words since he planted a car bomb on July 22 that killed eight people at an
Oslo government building, then went on to shoot dead 69 more, most of them teenagers, at a Labour Party summer camp on the island of Utoeya.
“I acknowledge the acts, but I do not plead guilty,” Breivik said, adding that he rejected the jurisdiction of the court
because it “supports multiculturalism”.
The attacks sparked a public debate about immigration, security and a legal system which has never had to cope with such an event.
About 120 people packed into the courtroom. Hundreds more squeezed into overflow rooms equipped with video links. Toward the end of the hearing Breivik indicated with a finger that he
wanted to speak again.
“I understand the aggrieved parties are present, may I say something to them?” he asked, but the judge turned him down and Breivik did not persist.
Outside the courthouse protesters held a banner that read “No speaker’s platform for fascists”, echoing fears expressed by some victims and family members that Breivik would be permitted to expound his anti-immigration philosophy.
But after the hearing, a 20-year-old survivor of the island shooting said Breivik looked nervous and small, a far cry from
the last time he saw the killer wearing a police uniform and carrying a semi-automatic rifle.
Most of the island victims were in their teens or 20s. Some were shot at point blank range, others while trying to swim to
Daniel Vister, another survivor, also said Breivik looked weak. “I think that what he said there shows that he is completely mad,” said Vister. “He is definitely not on this planet.”
The hearing, required periodically under Norwegian law to keep a suspect imprisoned before trial, was Breivik’s fourth but
the first open to the public.
A district judge extended pre-trial custody for 12 weeks but said Breivik can begin receiving visitors and letters under
strict control and that on December 12 he can have access to media for the first time, possibly even logging onto the Internet.
Breivik has been kept in solitary confinement since July 22 and has been denied visits, correspondence and access to
newspapers and television.
Officials said court-appointed psychiatrists were expected to finish their work late this month and that a trial was
tentatively set to begin on April 16.
They also said the courtroom used on Monday would be totally reconstructed for the trial, nearly doubling the audience
capacity to 240 seats and adding a press center for 250 to 300 journalists.