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Norway killer admits massacre, claims self-defense
Question of the Day
OSLO (AP) — With a defiant closed-fist salute, a right-wing fanatic admitted Monday to a bomb-and-shooting massacre that killed 77 people in Norway but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, saying he was acting in self-defense.
On the first day of his long-awaited trial, Anders Behring Breivik rejected the authority of the court as it sought to assign responsibility for the July 22 attacks, which shocked Norway and jolted the image of terrorism in Europe.
Dressed in a dark suit and sporting a thin beard, Mr. Breivik smiled as a guard removed his handcuffs in the crowded courtroom. The 33-year-old then flashed his salute before shaking hands with prosecutors and court officials.
“I don’t recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism,” Mr. Breivik said in his first comments to the court.
Eight people were killed in Mr. Breivik’s bombing of Oslo’s government district, and 69 were slain in his shooting massacre at the left-leaning Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya island outside the capital. Mr. Breivik has said the attacks were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims.
“I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt,” he told the court, insisting he had acted in self-defense.
The key issue to be resolved during the 10-week trial is the state of Mr. Breivik’s mental health, which will decide whether he is sent to prison or into psychiatric care. Anxious to prove he is not insane, Mr. Breivik will call right-wing extremists and radical Islamists to testify during the trial, to show that others also share his view of clashing civilizations.
During Monday’s opening session, he remained stone-faced and motionless as prosecutors read the indictment on the terror and murder charges, with descriptions of how each victim died, and when prosecutors explained how he prepared for the attacks.
But Mr. Breivik suddenly became emotional when prosecutors showed an anti-Muslim video that he had posted on YouTube before the killing spree, wiping away tears on his cheek with trembling hands.
After a lunch break, Mr. Breivik was again expressionless as he watched prosecutors present surveillance footage of the Oslo explosion. The blast ripped through a high-rise building that housed government offices, blowing out windows and filling surrounding streets with smoke and debris.
He didn’t flinch as prosecutors played a three-minute recording of a young woman’s frantic phone call to police from Utoya.
“Shots have been fired,” Renate Taarnes, 22, said with panic in her voice. “I’m pretty sure that there are many injured.”
More than a dozen shots in close succession could be heard as Ms. Taarnes fell silent.
“Are you still there?” the police officer asked.
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