'Nervous' Breivik pleads not guilty to Norway massacre

 

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The Independent Online

Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to massacring scores of people in Norway earlier this year, appeared in court yesterday and tried to address survivors of the attacks, before the judge ordered him to remain in prison for another 12 weeks until the start of his trial.

The hearing was the first time Breivik has appeared in public since admitting detonating a bomb in Oslo on 22 July and shooting dozens of youths at nearby Utoya island, killing a total of 77 people.

Judge Torkjel Nesheim asked Breivik how he pleaded to the charges. Breivik responded: "I admit doing the actions, but I plead not guilty."

The right-wing extremist introduced himself as "a knight and a commander of the Norwegian resistance movement and Knights Templar Norway".

According to those inside the courtroom, he appeared to be subdued and nervous when he arrived in the dock wearing a dark suit.

Several victims of the attacks were present. At one point towards the end of the hearing Breivik raised his hand and asked the judge if he could address those in the public gallery. He was bluntly refused by the judge, who also cut Breivik off on a few occasions when he tried to make other statements.

In an interview with the Norwegian newspaper VG, Erik Kursetgjerde, 18, one of the survivors from the Labour Youth Organisation, which was holding a camp on Utoya at the time, talked about his experience at the hearing when he came face to face with Breivik for the second time. "Before the court hearing started, the mood was very cold, but when he came in, it was very overwhelming. In the beginning, he smiled a little. That pained me in the heart the most."

Outside the court protesters held a banner that read, "No speaker's platform for fascists", echoing fears expressed by some victims and family members that Breivik would be permitted to expound his anti-immigration philosophy. But after the hearing, a 20-year-old survivor of the island shooting said Breivik looked nervous and small, a far cry from the last time he saw the killer wearing a police uniform and carrying a semi-automatic rifle.

"The last time I saw him he actually aimed at me and fired," said Bjoern Ihler. "It was good today to see him reduced... He fumbled a little and didn't catch anyone's eye. On the island he seemed very cold, calculated and precise in his movements."

Daniel Vister, another survivor, also said Breivik looked weak. "I think that what he said there shows that he is completely mad," Mr Vister said. "He is definitely not on this planet."

Breivik's defence lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said afterwards: "He said he was tense coming in." He did not know what Breivik had intended to say to surviving victims and family members.

In a rambling manifesto posted on the internet before the attacks, Breivik wrote that his arrest would open "the propaganda phase" of his operation to ignite a war to defend Europe against a supposed Muslim takeover.

Breivik was remanded in custody for another 12 weeks, but will be able to receive visitors and talk to the media.

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