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Breivik Admits Massacre, But Says 'Not Guilty'

  • RFE/RL

The anti-immigrant Norwegian man who confessed to killing 77 people last year in a bomb-and-shooting massacre has gone on trial in Oslo, defiantly rejecting the authority of the court.

Thirty-three-year-old Anders Behring Breivik flashed a closed-fist salute, seen as a right-wing gesture, as he entered the courtroom. He then refused to stand when the judges entered the courtroom, saying he refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the court.

"I do not recognize the Norwegian courts," he said. "You have received your mandate from political parties that support multiculturalism."

Breivik faces charges of terrorism and mass murder. He has admitted that he orchestrated a bomb blast in Oslo that killed eight people, and then went on a shooting spree targeting an island summer camp run by the country's ruling Labor Party.

The second attack resulted in the deaths of 69 people, most of them teenagers and young people with ties to the Labor Party.

Breivik told the court on April 16 that he did not consider himself guilty of any crime. He has said in the past that attacks were a protest against Norway's liberal immigration policies and were necessary to prevent the country from being taken over by Muslims.

He has expressed no remorse for the killings, and is expected to use the trial as a platform for airing for his anti-Muslim views.

Survivor Vegard Groslie Wennesland said on April 16 it would be difficult to see Breivik for the first time since the massacre in July 2011.

"It will be a difficult time for many but also a very important time. Today the trial will start and we will get all the details from what happened and the motives behind the attacks," Wennesland said.

"But it is also important that the justice system works and that we will prove that in the next 10 weeks."

Mental Health Key

Breivik sat stone-faced in the courtroom as the prosecutor read his indictment on terror and premeditated-murder charges, including descriptions of how each victim died.

Because Breivik has confessed to the crime, the key issue in the 10-week trial will be determining the state of Breivik's mental health, which will affect the nature of his internment.

If deemed by the court to be insane, he could face life in a mental hospital.

If deemed mentally competent, he could face a prison sentence of 21 years or an alternate custody arrangement that would allow Breivik to be held as long as he is seen as a danger to society.

The trial is taking place under heavy security, with streets around the court building sealed off and thick glass partitions separating Breivik from survivors and relatives of the victims who are attending the trial.

Norway's NRK television is broadcasting portions of the trial. But it is not allowed to show Breivik's testimony amid concerns that he will try to use the public exposure to incite future attacks.

With reporting by dpa, Reuters, and AP

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