Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has strongly defended his sanity, telling a court on Tuesday in his trial for a bomb-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people, that no one would have questioned his sanity if he were a “bearded jihadist.”
The far-right fanatic also told the court that he was the victim of a “racist” plot to discredit his ideology.
“I know I’m at risk of ending up at an insane asylum, and I’m going to do what I can to avoid that,” Breivik said.
The 33-year-old confessed killer used fertilizer, diesel and aluminum to make his 950-kilo bomb, which killed eight people working in the building and passers-by and injured dozens more.
Breivik has said his twin attacks were “cruel but necessary” to stop the Labor Party’s “multicultural experiment” and halt the “Muslim invasion” of Norway and Europe.
A forensic panel found has found flaws in a psychiatric report that declared him sane in the eyes of the law. Two psychiatric examinations conducted before the trial reached opposite conclusions on whether Breivik is psychotic - the key issue to be resolved during the trial, since the 33-year-old Norwegian had admitted to the deadly attacks.
But the second of those reports, which found him sane, has not yet been approved by the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine. On Monday, the panel highlighted several shortcomings in that assessment, and requested additional information from the two psychiatrists who wrote it.
In particular, the forensic board said it could not be established whether Breivik had adjusted his behaviour during the examination as part of a strategy to be declared mentally competent.
Paal Groendahl, a forensic psychologist who is not involved with the case but has followed the trial in court, said the panel’s queries underscore the difficulty in assessing Breivik’s state of mind.
“I don’t think it’s any closer to being resolved,” he said.
If found sane Breivik would face 21 years in prison, though he can be held longer if deemed a danger to society. If sentenced to psychiatric care, in theory he would be released once he’s no longer deemed psychotic and dangerous.
Witness, expert describe bomb attack
A security guard and an explosives expert described in court on Tuesday the massive blast that rocked Oslo when Breivik bombed a government building last July, killing eight people.
Tor Inge Kristoffersen, a security guard in the Norwegian capital’s government quarter, told the court that on July 22 he saw a white van park at the foot of the tower housing the offices of Labor Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
He said he was in the operations center in the basement of the building and was using surveillance camera images to check whether the van was authorized to be there.
“When I was zooming in on the number plate, the car exploded,” he testified, adding that “half of the images disappeared from our screens because the cameras had been destroyed in the explosion.”
“There was a huge roar. We were so close that we did not hear a blast, but a roar, and we noticed the shockwave in the ceiling over us,” he said.
Stoltenberg, who was working from his official residence that day, was not harmed in the attack.
Kristoffersen, a former soldier who served in the Middle East and in the Balkans, continued to work in the government district after the attacks, and likened the area to “a war zone.”
In the weeks after the bombing and Breivik’s subsequent shooting massacre on the nearby Utoeya island -- where he killed another 69 people, mainly teens -- many raised questions about how the right-wing extremist could have parked his van so close to Norway’s political nerve center.
In his testimony, Kristoffersen stressed that long-overdue construction was under way to block off traffic in the street outside the government building, but that in the meantime “illegal parking” was frequent in the area.
“We chased cars away from there every day,” he said.
Svein Olav Christensen, a government explosives expert, meanwhile told the court that a reenactment and simulations showed that Breivik’s bomb had the energy equivalent of between 400 and 700 kilos (180-320 pounds) of TNT.
“The main charge is easy to make,” he said, adding though that “the detonator is more difficult.”