Unrepentant and shameless, Anders Breivik faces justice at last

Self-proclaimed 'Knight Templar' pleads not guilty to murder of 77 people – saying it was self-defence

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The Independent Online

There was only one, dramatic moment when Anders Behring Breivik seemed to crack yesterday. Dressed in a dark blue suit, beige silk tie and wearing a thin chin beard, Norway's mass murderer sat in Oslo's court 250 at the opening of his trial for the slaughter of 77 people yesterday looking impassive and chillingly defiant. Sometimes he even smirked.

But suddenly the 33-year-old killer's lips began to pucker and tighten. His chin started to quiver uncontrollably. Then tears welled in his eyes and as he wiped them away with trembling fingers, it became obvious that the man responsible for Norway's worst act of violence since the Second World War was crying.

Was it a first sign of remorse? Not a bit of it. Breivik was overcome by emotion at the sound of his own voice. He wept as he watched the prosecution's recording of his own fanatical propaganda film, which he posted on the internet only hours before carrying out the twin acts of terrorism that have plunged Norway into the trauma from which it is still trying to recover. He told his lawyer later he found his film "emotional".

Claiming that he was engaged in a European war against Marxist multiculturalism and Muslim domination, Breivik detonated a massive fertiliser bomb in Oslo's government district on 22 July last year that killed eight people and injured many others.

Disguised as a police commando, he then travelled to fjord island of Utoya where several hundred young members of Norway's ruling Labour Party were attending a summer camp. Equipped with a rifle, grenades and a handgun, he then set about systematically slaughtering 69 mostly teenaged participants. Many were shot while they were in the water trying to escape. Some hid in trees. Scores more suffered horrific injuries.

But yesterday the self-confessed mass killer tried to cast himself in the role of Norway's lone crusader against the forces of pernicious multiculturalism. The relatives and friends of those murdered by Breivik sat behind a bullet-proof screen in the extensively refurbished courtroom and watched aghast as the killer thrust his right arm forward in what appeared to be a clenched fist version of the Nazi salute as he entered the court.

"I don't recognise Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties which support multiculturalism," Breivik told the presiding judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen quietly. "I admit to the acts, but not to criminal guilt. I do not plead guilty, I was acting in self-defence," Breivik, who had earlier described himself as a "writer", insisted.

Eda Knutsen, a young survivor of the Utoya massacre, was in court to witness Norway's worst nightmare being brought to justice. Fighting back the tears, she said she was relieved to see him surrounded by police.

Several relatives of Breivik's victims wept as the evidence against him was read out. One young woman, a sister of a young Labour party member shot dead on Utoya, collapsed during a break in the proceedings and was given medical attention. John Hestnes, who lost a close friend in the Oslo bomb, was in court to watch the trial. Only yards from the court, building workers were still repairing the damage caused by Breivik's attack last summer. "I prepared myself. I watched all the films and read everything in advance, but being here is much tougher than I thought it would be," he said.

Breivik had shown "no concern for the victims", he said. "This is not a provocation but it shows something about the state of his mind."

It was the prosecution lawyers who were left to describe the full extent of Breivik's gun rampage in shocking detail. For more than an hour the names of all of the 77 victims and those he wounded were read out. Prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh listed forensic report after report, explaining how rounds fired from the killer's handgun and rifle smashed the skulls, vertebrae, limbs and faces of his innocent victims as, panic stricken, they tried to flee.

Many were gunned down in cold blood as they walked into Breivik's gun sights while out strolling on Utoya island's idyllic "love path". Others died as they hid in the island's pump and school houses. More were shot dead in the water as they tried to swim away from the island. The injuries of the wounded were also chilling. A 17-year-old was so badly hurt in the onslaught that she had to have an arm and a leg amputated.

The first day of yesterday's trial was broadcast on Norwegian television, but some of the prosecutions' evidence, which included police film of bomb victims and teenagers being shot, was considered too disturbing to be aired.

Svein Holden, a second state prosecutor explained at length what happened during the 15 years of Breivik's life that preceded his attacks. It was the story of academic failure at school, a subsequent drift into a job as a telephone salesman and then a decision to set up a series of failed companies.

In his free time he spent hours playing the computer game World of Warcraft. Breivik's last business venture as the head of a firm selling bogus diplomas finally earned him cash. At around he same time he claimed to have joined the so-called "Knights Templar", an organisation purportedly engaged in the fight against Muslim domination of Europe. However Holden told the court: "As far as we are aware, this organisation does not exist."

From then on Breivk began to assemble his arsenal of weapons. He created his own uniforms and had himself photographed dressed as a commando sniper with a large automatic rifle and sporting a badge that read "Marxist multicultural traitor hunting permit." In the months that led up to his attacks, he wrote his so-called "manifesto2", lived in his mother's Oslo apartment and rented a farm where he built his devastating bomb from chemicals and fertilisers. Breivik, will today begin to give his own version of the motives behind his attacks. Norwegian television has refused to broadcast what he says.

Q&A: How will this trial work?

Q: What is the toughest available sentence available to the court?

A: If convicted, Breivik faces the maximum sentence of 21 years in prison. This can be extended indefinitely if he is considered a threat to society. However, if found criminally insane by the court he would be sent to a secure psychiatric unit, an outcome Breivik says would be "worse than death". Norway abolished the death penalty for civilians in 1905.

Q: What is his defence?

A: Breivik has admitted committing the killings but denies guilt. He says he was acting in self-defence, against a take-over of Norway by Muslim immigrants.

Q: Who will give evidence?

A: Ninety witnesses will stand for the prosecution. The defence side has called on 40, including an anti-Islam right-wing blogger who goes under the alias of Fjordman and has said all Muslims should be deported from Europe. He was quoted by Breivik in his manifesto. Breivik's lawyers will also summon the recently-jailed Mullah Krekar, founder of Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, to support the claim that ideological extremism is not a psychiatric disorder. Others have refused to stand.

Q: Who will decide on the verdict?

A: A special panel of five judges, including two professional judges and three lay members, rather than a jury, will deliver a verdict.

Q: Why doesn't he recognise the court?

A: Breivik said the court has a mandate from political parties, which support multiculturalism, and he accuses one judge of being friends with a former Prime Minister.