OSLO - The Norwegian anti-Muslim mass killer who massacred 77 people last summer pleaded not guilty to charges on Monday, April 16, as he appeared in the court clenching his fist in a far-right salute and saying he did not recognize the authority of the judges.
I acknowledge the acts, but not criminal guilt and I claim self-defense," Anders Behring Breivik, 33, told the court on the first day of his 10-week trial, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
The judge then entered the plea as not guilty.
Appearing in an Oslo courthouse on Monday, Breivik was in handcuffs, which were taken off just before he was seated.
He then clenched his fist in a far right salute in the courtroom that gathered many of the families of the victims.
Admitting to the massacre, he pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, saying he was acting in self-defense.
He claimed the attacks were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims.
He added he targeted the government headquarters in Oslo and the youth camp to strike against the left-leaning political forces he blames for allowing immigration in Norway.
His plea came after prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh spent over an hour reading the charges against him, including acts of terror, and listing each of his 77 victims and how they died.
Breivik, described by the police as a "right-wing Christian fundamentalist", killed at least 76 people in twin attacks on a government building and a youth training camp in Oslo last year.
The attacker said his assault was a self-styled mission to save European Christendom from Islam.
The anti-Muslim militant described himself as a writer, currently working from prison, when asked by the judge for his employment status.
He added he doesn't recognize the authority of Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen.
"I do not recognize the Norwegian courts. You have received your mandate from political parties which support multiculturalism," Breivik told the court, Reuters reported.
"I do not acknowledge the authority of the court."
Though pleading not guilty, the trial was held not determine whether Breivik carried out the attacks, but whether he can be held responsible and sane.
"Your arrest will mark the initiation of the propaganda phase," he wrote in a manual for future attackers, part of a 1,500-page manifesto he posted online.
"Your trial offers you a stage to the world."
Breivik is scheduled to testify for about a week, starting on Tuesday.
An initial psychiatric test concluded that Breivik was criminally insane while a second one, completed in the past week, found no evidence of psychosis.
Resolving this conflict could be the five-judge panel's major decision.
If found sane, Breivik faces a maximum 21-year sentence but could be held indefinitely if he is considered a continuing danger.
If declared insane, he would be held in a psychiatric institution indefinitely with periodic reviews.
More than 200 people took seats in the specially built Oslo courtroom while about 700 attack survivors and family members of victims watched on closed-circuit video around the country.
"Today the trial starts, and it will be a tough time for many," survivor Vegard Groeslie Wennesland, 28, said outside the courtroom.
"Last time I saw him in person he we was shooting my friends."