18 Apr 2012

Acquittal or death, Anders Breivik demands in court

The Norwegian, who’s accused of murdering 77 people last summer has been giving evidence at his trial again today, refusing to answer questions about his alleged ‘network’ of far right extremists.

Anders Behring Breivik walked into court in Oslo with his usual defiance, and another clenched fist salute. He has admitted killing 69 people on the island of Utoya, most of them teenagers, along with another 8 people in a bomb attack in Oslo last summer, but he claims he was acting in defence of his country. Today though, his confidence began to slip, as he appeared flustered, and repeatedly refused to answer questions.

He dismissed the idea of a lengthy jail sentence as a “pathetic punishment”, and said he would have respected a death sentence, even though that’s not an option under Norwegian law.

He was questioned at length about his links with other European extremists, after claiming that he had been inspired by Serbian nationalists, rather than the Nazis, and claimed to be part of a far right network with links in Serbia, Liberia and the United Kingdom. He has said the group was called the Knights Templar, after a group of medieval monks, and said they met in London in 2002 to decide their platform.

Prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh tried to find out more about the group’s existence, as Breivik declared it was a collection of autonomous cells, and “not an organisation in a conventional sense”. Pressing for details, Engh asked: “Is it not something you have made up?”, suggesting he might be a fantasist. Breivik inisisted he hadn’t made anything up, accusing proseuctors of trying to “sow doubt”.

The court was shown the statement Breivik made to police in July last year, wher he described the alleged London meeting, and claimed they drew up a “detailed long term plan on how to seize power in Western Europe”. There was no elaboration from Breivik today, though, despite a warning from the judge that a failure to answer questions could count against him. “I don’t want to comment about London, Liberia or the Balkans”, he said.

However he did lay out his admiration for a Serbian style “crusader” mentality, and wanted to distance himself from “old school” national socialism. And he spoke about his admiration for Al Qaeda, declaring his admiration for Bin Laden’s “brutal methods”, and claiming that he wanted to create an “al-Qaeda for Christian nationalists in Europe.”

Cameras weren’t allowed to remain in court for Breivik’s testimony: the Norwegian authorities are anxious to limit any publicity for his extreme views. But the issue at stake today – whether or not the Knights Templar network really does exist – could prove crucial to determining Breivik’s sanity, and whether he ends up in prison, or compulsory psychiatric care, for the massacre that left 77 people dead.