The self-confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was formally charged with committing acts of terror yesterday, seven months after he massacred 77 people in Norway's worst violence since the Second World War.
Defence lawyers representing Breivik, 33, read out the charges against him during a visit to Oslo's high-security prison. His trial will begin on 16 April and, if convicted, he could be jailed for 21 years or be committed to long-term psychiatric care. Breivik, who claims his acts of violence were a crusade to prevent a Muslim invasion of Europe, remained calm on hearing the charges.
On 22 July last year, Breivik detonated a car bomb outside government offices in Oslo, which killed eight people and injured scores of others. Dressed as a policeman and armed with an automatic rife, he then travelled to the fjord island of Utoya, north of Oslo, where he shot dead 69 young people attending a Norwegian Labour Party summer camp. Most victims were teenagers.
Prosecutors consider Breivik to be criminally insane and may try to have him committed to long-term psychiatric care rather than a lengthy term in a high-security prison.
But medical experts are divided about his state of mind. In an initial examination, Breivik was interviewed 13 times by court-appointed psychiatrists who concluded he was mentally ill and lived in a "delusional universe".
However, a separate team of four psychiatrists re-examined Breivik and disagreed. They claimed that he was neither psychotic nor schizophrenic and said they did not think he needed drugs.
The court ordered a further psychiatric assessment which is still under way.