Norway mass killer faces murder, terror charges

Anders Behring Breivik has been formally charged in the murder of 77 people last summer.

Heiko Junge/Scanpix Norway/AP
Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist who confessed to a bombing and mass shooting that killed 77 people on July 22, 2011, arrives for a detention hearing at a court in Oslo, Norway, Feb. 6.

The anti-Islam militant whose bomb attack and shooting massacre shocked Norway last summer was formally charged on Wednesday with terrorism and the premeditated murder of 77 people as officials prepared for a trial to start next month.

Prosecutors said they would initially seek a sentence of psychiatric care for the admitted killer but might demand 21 years in prison -- Norway's nominal maximum -- if an initial diagnosis of psychosis is contradicted in a second examination.

Anders Behring Breivik, 33, has admitted carrying out a July bomb attack that killed eight people at government headquarters in Oslo and a gun massacre hours later that killed 69 people at a Labour Party summer camp.

His targets were "traitors" with immigrant-friendly attitudes, he said at a preliminary court hearing.

"The defendant has committed highly serious crimes of a dimension we have no previous experience with in our society in modern times," prosecutor Svein Holden told reporters.

He said the killings included "aggravating circumstances" but did not amount to crimes against humanity under Norwegian law.

There had been speculation Breivik might face a crimes-against-humanity charge, with a maximum 30-year sentence, but legal experts said Norway's law applies to widespread, systematic atrocities rather than the acts of an individual.

Prosecutors and police formally presented the charge sheet to Breivik in prison earlier on Wednesday.

While the maximum conventional prison sentence for murder in Norway is 21 years, courts are permitted to extend custody indefinitely after that if a violent, sane convict is considered likely to repeat his crimes.

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