'We will answer hatred with love and honour our heroes'

Norwegian Prime Minister's pledge as first funerals of Breivik's victims are held
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Norway held the first funerals for the victims of the country's devastating Utoya island massacre and Oslo city centre bombing yesterday as police interrogated the self-confessed killer for the second time.

The centre of Oslo was covered in bouquets of flowers and candles yesterday afternoon as the city stood still for a minute's silence in memory of the 77 mostly teenaged victims of Anders Breivik's double attack a week ago. Police confirmed yesterday that a 69th victim had died in hospital after being wounded during Breivik's shooting spree on the island.

Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's 52-year-old Labour Party Prime Minister, marked the occasion by attending a memorial service in the city's cathedral along with most of his cabinet. Hundreds stood in front of a carpet of flowers outside the building commemorating those killed. Many were in tears.

Speaking from a stage covered with red roses, the symbol of his party, Mr Stoltenberg pledged that Norway would not allow itself to be shocked or intimidated into silence. Of the survivors of the massacre he added: "The bravery these young people have shown is catching. We are going to answer hatred with love and honour our heroes for ever."

Flags around the country – and outside the embassy in London – flew at half mast. Norway has suspended import tariffs on roses because Norwegian producers have been unable to meet demand for the flowers.

The memorial service coincided with the first funerals of the youth members of the Norwegian Labour Party who were shot dead by Breivik while attending a party youth camp on Utoya island, just north of Oslo, last Friday.

Breivik was taken yesterday from the Oslo prison where he has been held in solitary confinement since he was captured by police on Utoya island, and returned to police headquarters for a second interrogation.

During seven hours of questioning after his arrest a week ago, he had claimed that he singled out Labour youth members because he detested the party's liberal attitudes; he said its tolerance of immigrants was fostering "Muslim world domination".

Police said the dossier resulting from his first questioning was already 50 pages long. "We are confronting him with the contradictions he made during his first interrogation," Pal Kraby, Oslo's head of police investigations, told reporters yesterday.

He added that Breivik had behaved "extremely calmly" during questioning and was "more than willing to explain everything". But he refused to release further details.

There was renewed speculation that Breivik's plans to commit terrorist attacks went further than had been previously assumed. Geir Lippestad, his lawyer, who specialises in far-right crimes, revealed in a newspaper interview that Breivik had "other plans of varying dimensions".

He said that Breivik had told him that apart from planting a bomb in the centre of downtown Oslo, he had also wanted to bomb two other, unspecified buildings. Mr Lippestad added that Breivik had carried out the attacks under the influence of stimulants: "He took drugs in order to do what he did," Mr Lippestad said. State prosecutors have said his trial will not begin until next year.

An opinion poll indicated that support for Labour leapt about 10 percentage points in the days after the attacks, when Stoltenberg won praise for his calm handling of the crisis. At the same time, support for the populist, right-wing Progress Party, of which Breivik was once a member, fell.

The Funeral

A young Kurdish immigrant woman, and potential Labour politician was one of the first victims buried yesterday. Several hundred people – led by a Lutheran priest and an imam – followed the coffin of Bano Rashid, 18, to the Muslim section of the cemetery.

"Seeing the imam and the priest walking together from the church was a mighty image – the strongest message that can be sent to counter the forces we have been witness to," said Foreign Minister Jonas Stoere who attended the ceremony. "Bano is simply not here any more, it is impossible to take this in."

She had planned to stand as a candidate for the party in local elections in September. Before being shot and killed by Breivik, she had met Norway's legendary former woman prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, 72, on the island. Mrs Brundtland lent her a pair of Wellington boots to go paddling in.

The funeral of Ismail Haji Ahmed, 19, also a member of the party's youth wing, was held in the south-western town of Hamar.

Comments