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‘Insane’ Mass Killer Divides Norway

Published: 02/12/2011 01:45:58 PM GMT
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OSLO - A report declaring a mass killer, who killed scores of people while on an “anti-Islam crusade', as “insane” has divided Norwegians. It was a relief,” Liv Svaba, a pensioner from southern Norway, told Reuters on Wedn (more)

OSLO - A report declaring a mass killer, who killed scores of people while on an “anti-Islam crusade', as “insane” has divided Norwegians.

"It was a relief,” Liv Svaba, a pensioner from southern Norway, told Reuters on Wednesday, November 30.

“You don't want to be tried in the same court as him. That would soil the whole system, and would be against my sense of justice.

"Had he been declared sane, he would have counted as one of us, he would have been like you or me. But he is against everything we stand for," she added, winning support from her partner.

Right-winger Behring Breivik killed 77 people on July 22 when he planted a car bomb that killed eight people at an Oslo government building, then went on to shoot dead 69 more, most of them teenagers, at an island summer camp of the ruling Labor Party's youth wing.

Breivik, a right-wing fundamentalist, described his attack as a self-styled mission to save European "Christendom" from Islam.

But a mental health report on Tuesday declared Breivik as “insane”.

The 243-page report, of which only the conclusions were made public, described Breivik as suffering from ongoing paranoid schizophrenia and psychosis.

It said the killer believes in many different forms of "bizarre delusions," including that he was chosen to decide who shall live and who shall die, and that he was chosen to save what he called "his people."

The report, an extract of which was leaked to the Norwegian tabloid VG, quoted Breivik's mother as saying to psychiatrists, in tears, that her son "must have been insane, given how different he had become."

Breivik himself rejected the conclusions of the report when he was told about them late Tuesday.

"He did not seem to accept the report's conclusions. He seemed insulted by it," Christian Hatlo, a lawyer with Oslo police who questioned Breivik after he was told the news, told the Dagbladet newspaper.

Breivik has previously said via his lawyer that he does not regard himself as insane.

If the court accepts the report's conclusions, Breivik would be held in a mental health institution rather than in a prison.

Norwegian courts can challenge psychiatric evaluations or order new tests but rarely reject them.

Deep Sadness

But many Norwegians rejected the report's conclusions.

"This is completely unacceptable for all of us," said Elfete Selaci, the mother of a teenaged girl who was killed at Utoeya.

"He knew what he was doing and he planned this for a long time," she told NRK.

Her husband Bajrush added: "I feel a deep sadness in my heart. He killed so many people and to hear that he is sick..." His voice trailed off.

A poll conducted for the Norwegian broadcaster NRK found that 48 percent of Norwegians reject the psychiatric assessment. Only 36 percent accepted the report.

"He will be locked up, either in a prison-like facility or in a psychiatric clinic, for the foreseeable future," said Mette Larsen, a lawyer representing survivors and relatives of Breivik's victims.

"I have rarely read so clear a description of a dangerous man as we have seen here," she told Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

Among politicians, opinions were similarly divided.

Some party leaders said they were shocked given that the killer said he had planned his attack methodically over nine years.

Representatives of the ruling Labor Party, whose youth members were attacked on Utoeya island, said the court should decide the process ahead.

"The important thing is not how I feel," said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, whose office was destroyed in the bomb and who knew personally dozens of the youths from his Labor Party who were killed in the shooting spree."Politicians are not making this decision, this is done by an independent court," he told TV2.

Reproduced with permission from

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