Friends and relatives of the 77 people massacred by Norway's anti-Islamic gunman Anders Behring Breivik reacted with horror and disgust yesterday as the killer boasted in court that his twin terrorist attacks were "spectacular" feats and that, given the chance, he would do it all again.
On the second day of his trial in Oslo, the 33-year-old mass murderer grinned, smirked and laughed as he told judges he was "defending his country" when he detonated a car bomb in the centre of the Norwegian capital last July and later went on the rampage at a Labour Party island youth camp, shooting dead 69 teenagers. "I have carried out the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack in Europe since the Second World War," he told the court.
It was the first of five days allocated for Breivik to explain his motives. However, the Norwegian authorities have ruled against broadcasting his testimony because of fears that it could be used as propaganda for his cause.
Breivik spent more than an hour delivering what amounted to an attack on the liberal values of Norway's democratic system. His racist and deeply disturbing performance was watched by his victims' relatives who winced as they sat separated by a bullet-proof screen a few feet behind the killer.
"He is getting what he wants and I don't want to be a part of that," objected Hildegunn Fallang, a survivor of the massacre.
The court yesterday demonstrated its commitment to ensuring a fair trial by dismissing one of the lay judges who argued on a Facebook page that Breivik should face the death penalty.
Prosecution and defence lawyers have insisted all along that allowing Breivik to explain his motives is a vital part of his trial as it will enable judges to decide on the key, still unresolved question: whether he is insane or can be considered fully accountable for his actions.
Psychiatrists are divided over the issue. One report claims to have evidence that Breivik is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. But, a second psychiatric examination shortly before his trial concluded he was sane. The court's ruling will determine whether he spends the rest of his life in prison or in psychiatric care.
Claiming he acted out of "goodness, not evil", Breivik said he had carried out his attacks to prevent a wider civil war between European nationalists and Marxist "internationalists" who favoured multiculturalism.
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