Man aims shoe at Breivik, marking first outburst in surprisingly calm trial (+video)
The brother of one of Anders Behring Breivik's victims launched a shoe at the confessed killer on a day that was already tense because of a controversial legal proposal.
Tensions rose high today in the Anders Behring Breivik terror trial, with a violent outburst in the Oslo courtroom and a political storm over a rushed new mental health care amendment that was formally proposed today.Skip to next paragraph
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A young Kurdish man, reportedly the brother of one of the 18-year-old victims, threw his shoe at Breivik, the man charged with killing 77 in last summer’s twin terror attack, and yelled in English: “You killed my brother. Go to hell.”
The shoe struck Vibeke Hein Bæra, Breivik’s defense attorney, who was sitting beside Breivik. The thrower was quickly escorted away by police and medical personnel via ambulance. Breivik responded to the incident by commenting, “If someone wants to throw something, you can throw it at me.”
The dramatic event marks the first such emotional outburst in this case, which has proceeded calmly and civilly until now, with only silent sobbing from victims’ families. It happened on the last day of presenting autopsy reports from the victims of Breivik's shooting spree on Utøya, where Breivik killed 69 people attending the Labor Party youth’s summer camp. Several of the victims were born to foreign parents.
The unexpected incident caused many in court, mostly victims’ relatives, to clap as the man was led out of court crying, says Anders Gjaever, a Norwegian media commentator who was in court today. He told VG TV it was a “relief” for him and probably also to Norwegians, who are not used to expressing their emotions so openly.
“He probably did what most [victims’ families] wanted to do,” says Mr. Gjaever.
The incident occurred shortly before Norway’s health ministry was to present a controversial amendment to the country's mental health care law, which has been criticized by politicians and the legal and psychological community for being drafted in haste in order to become law before Breivik’s sentencing.
The government proposed a number of extended powers to strengthen security measures related to a small group of mental health patients considered dangerous. One of the proposed powers would give mental health professionals the right to search patients, another would put a limit on patients’ communication with the outside world.
The proposal also introduces a legal basis for establishing a unit with a particularly high level of security. This could be within the walls of a prison, but a decision had not been whether and where such a unit may be located, the ministry said.
“The current act implies too great a risk for escape, hostage taking and severe violence against patients and staff in the health institutions where particular dangerous patients stay,” said Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services, in a statement.