Anders Breivik says he killed to protect indigenous Norwegians (+video)
In testimony today, Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian behind the 2011 attacks, compared himself to World War II commanders who decided to bomb Japan to prevent further loss of life.
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Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s defense attorney, said yesterday in a press conference that his client’s testimony over the next days would be the most important piece of evidence presented to the court in determining his client’s sanity. Mr. Lippestad said last week that his client felt it was important to be considered sane so that his ideology would "stand stronger."Skip to next paragraph
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The trial began today with Breivik flashing a clenched-fist salute. Shortly thereafter, Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen recommending that Thomas Indrebø, one of the three lay judges in this case, withdraw immediately from the case for having posted on Facebook, “The death penalty is the only just thing to do in this case!” on the day after the attack. In Norwegian courts, two professional judges and three lay judges – in this case ordinary Oslo residents – determine a judgement in the case.
The replacement marks the second in this high-profile case after one of the original three lay judges was forced to step down prior to the trial because of his ties to the Labor party, the target of Breivik’s attacks. The situation poses no technical problem for the case as there are two reserve lay judges. However it highlights the problem of ensuring an unbiased judgement in a small country of five million where most people know someone who was affected by the attack.
Breivik began his trial yesterday by denouncing the legitimacy of the court and pleading not guilty. He remained stoic during most of the prosecutors' hours-long opening statement, even during the reading of graphic descriptions of death from the indictment and an emergency phone call from a terrified teenager hiding in a bathroom on Utøya with repeated rounds of gunfire in the background.
His only moment of emotion was when he was moved to tears during the viewing of his 12-minute propaganda movie trailer Knights Templar 2083, which he released online shortly before his shooting spree.
“It was a very touching film,” Breivik said today during cross-examination by Inga Bejer Engh, Oslo public prosecutor, when asked about his unexpected reaction in court. “I thought, 'My country and my ethnic group are dying.' ”
Engh focused her cross-examination today on establishing who gave Breivik the authority to carry out his attacks. He argued that his killing spree was justified based on the “universal human right” of defending indigenous people against ethnic cleansing, but underlined that no sovereign state or organization had given him the authority.
“I see this as an unliveable injustice,” said Breivik, referring to the attacks. “But it was my own choice.”
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