Norway mass killer denies ‘criminal guilt’

Anders Breivik, accused of murdering 77 people in July last year, says he acted against “Muslim invasion of Europe”.

The trial of a Norwegian accused of killing 77 people in twin attacks last year has been adjourned until Tuesday, with the suspect pleading not guilty but arguing he acted in self-defence.

Anders Behring Breivik, 33, told a court in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Monday that he killed eight people in a car bombing and 69 others in the town of Utoeya – mainly youths attending a summer camp organised by the governing Labour Party – because he opposed multiculturalism promoted by the party.

“I acknowledge the acts, but not criminal guilt,” Breivik said, referring to the July 2011 attacks over which prosecutors accuse him of committing acts of terror.

He said he acted against a “Muslim invasion of Europe” in what is being seen as an unprecedented trial in Norway’s history.

The prosecution said he would begin his testimony when the trial resumes.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Oslo, said Breivik’s testimony would not be shown live.

The opening proceedings from the specially adapted Oslo District Court were broadcast live to 17 local courthouses around the country to accommodate more than 770 survivors and families of victims figuring as plaintiffs.

Breivik arrived for the morning’s opening session in Oslo amid tight security and massive media attention, with proceedings set to focus on whether or not he is legally sane.

Far-right salute

Upon his entrance to the court, Breivik lifted his right fist in an apparent far-right salute.

“I do not recognise the Norwegian courts. You have received your mandate from political parties which support multiculturalism”, Breivik told the court, adding that he wished to be tried in a military court. “I do not acknowledge the authority of the court.”

Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, the lead judge, responded, telling Breivik that he would have time to make statements later on in the trial.

Breivik displayed little emotion as the prosecutor read out a list of those killed and how they had died as well as his charges, but later appeared tearful as the court was shown a 12-minute film that he had posted online on the day of the attacks.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull recaps the Oslo attacks

Entering his plea on Monday, he said he had acted in self-defence.

The trial is expected to focus on whether or not Breivik is criminally sane and therefore accountable for his actions.

A first court-ordered psychiatric exam found him insane, while a second opinion came to the opposite conclusion.

Five judges will consider psychiatric evaluations presented to the court, with a verdict expected to be handed down in July.

But many Norwegians feel Breivik will use the trial as a showcase for far-right views expounded in a more-than 1,500-page document published online prior to the attack.

In that self-styled manifesto, Breivik described a trial as offering “a stage to the world”.

Jo Stigen, a law professor at the University of Oslo, told Al Jazeera the trial was a “fascinating case”, but that it was a peculiar situation where the accused claims responsibility for the killings and “now pleads he committed them in self-defence”.

“To me it sounds a pretty absurd argument,” Stigen said.

“If he is declared insane his mission totally will fall apart. So it is extremely important [for Breivik] to be considered sane and to be held criminally responsible.”

If convicted, Breivik faces a 21-year sentence that could be extended indefinitely if he is still considered a threat to society. If deemed to be insane, he would face closed psychiatric care, possibly for life.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies