Norway marks one year anniversary of massacre

 

Norway is commemorating the 77 victims of a bomb and gun massacre that shocked the peaceful nation one year ago.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old far-right fanatic, has admitted to the attacks on July 22 last year - a bombing of the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight, and a shooting rampage that left 69 dead at the left-wing Labour Party's youth camp on Utoya island.

In a wreath-laying ceremony at the bomb site today, prime minister Jens Stoltenberg said Breivik had not succeeded in his declared goal of destroying Norway's commitment to being an inclusive, multicultural society.

Mr Stoltenberg said: "The bomb and the gun shots were meant to change Norway. The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won."

In Oslo, tarps still cover the windows of bomb-damaged buildings on the plaza, and large cement road blocks stop all but pedestrian traffic.

Mounted police and officers with bomb-sniffing dogs were on the site, but the security was not overbearing, as if to show that Norway is still an open society.

The police investigation showed Breivik set off a fertiliser bomb that tore the facade of the high-rise that housed the government's headquarters, and drove toward Utoya unhindered as chaos reigned in the capital.

Arriving on Utoya disguised as a police officer and armed with a handgun and assault rifle, he unleashed a shooting massacre that sent panicked teenagers fleeing into the lake or hiding behind rocks to save their lives. More than half of the victims were teenagers - the youngest had turned 14 five days earlier.

Also today, survivors gathered for a private ceremony on the island, while Norway's royal family and government leaders attended a church service in Oslo, where a memorial concert was planned later in the day.

During the 10-week trial that ended in June, Breivik admitted to the attacks but declined criminal guilt out of principle, saying the victims were traitors for embracing immigration and making Norway a multicultural society.

Prosecutors said Breivik was psychotic and should be sent to compulsory psychiatric care while Breivik's defence lawyers argued that he was sane. The Oslo district court is set to deliver its ruling on August 24.

AP

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