Trial begins in Norway for Anders Breivik, accused of attack killing 77 people

The Takeaway

The trial began Monday morning for Anders Breivik, the man accused of terrorist attacks in Norway that killed 77 people last July.

The proceedings began with Breivik asserting his controversial political views.

“I don’t recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism,” Breiviks said.

Breiviks admitted to the killings, but he pleaded not guilty because he said he was acting in self defense.

Alexander Levi, a lawyer based in Oslo, said he was not surprised by Breiviks’ defiance and believes the court most likely anticipated a statement like the one he gave.

“This is obviously his chance to shine in the limelight. He’s been waiting for this for a while, so I think the court’s expecting that he’s going to use the time he’s given in front of a microphone as best as he can,” Levi said.

While court-appointed psychiatrists initially determined Breivik was mentally insane, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, conflicting information came out later. Breiviks believes himself to be sane. 

“Just because you have two conflicting reports, will make it that much more important that he is given a chance to speak freely in front of the judges because they will — well, they normally will put a lot of emphasis on a psychiatrist’s report. Now they’ve actually go two, and they conflict, so they will have to, to the best of their ability, use his own testimony given in court to try to decide whether or not they find him insane or sane,” Levi said.

Determining Breivik’s sanity will most likely also determine his sentincing, if found guilty. According to the New York Times, if he is found insane, he may be placed in forced psychiatric care for as long as he is mentally ill. If the court determines Breivik was sane during the massacre, he may face up to 21 years in prison with an option to imprison him longer if he is still deemed dangerous after that time. Either way, the court’s ruling should prove controversial.

Despite what he calls a “saturation of media coverage,” Levi believes the integrity of Norwegian courts will be upheld in the criminal proceedings. 

“The criminal code in Norway is very well established. There are very important rules and regulations that are followed regardless if you’ve murdered one person, or if you’ve murdered 100 people. Or if you’ve stolen a car. Or, you know whatever you’ve done, you have to follow the same rule,” Levi said. “That’s the crux of any developed criminal code in a developed Western country, so I don’t think at all that this is in anyway putting the Norwegian legal system on trial.”

Levi said that he believes the trial will give closure to the families of the victims, as well as the rest of Norway.

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