Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Trial focuses on Breivik’s mental state

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Oslo: Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik vehemently defended his sanity on Tuesday after a forensic panel found flaws in a psychiatric report that declared him sane in the eyes of the law.

As the trial for Breivik’s bomb-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people entered its second week, the far-right fanatic told a court that he was the victim of a “racist” plot to discredit his ideology. He said no one would have questioned his sanity if he were a “bearded jihadist.”

“I know I’m at risk of ending up at an insane asylum, and I’m going to do what I can to avoid that,” Breivik said.

Two psychiatric examinations conducted before the trial reached opposite conclusions on whether Breivik is psychotic the key issue to be resolved during the trial, since the 33-year-old Norwegian had admitted to the deadly attacks.

But the second of those reports, which found him sane, has not yet been approved by the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine.

On Tuesday, the panel highlighted several shortcomings in that assessment, and requested additional information from the two psychiatrists who wrote it.

In particular, the forensic board said it could not be established whether Breivik had adjusted his behavior during the examination as part of a strategy to be declared mentally competent.

Paal Groendahl, a forensic psychologist who is not involved with the case but has followed the trial in court, said the panel’s queries underscore the difficulty in assessing Breivik’s state of mind.

“I don’t think it’s any closer to being resolved,” he said.

If found sane Breivik would face 21 years in prison, though he can be held longer if deemed a danger to society. If sentenced to psychiatric care, in theory he would be released once he’s no longer deemed psychotic and dangerous.

Breivik has admitted to setting off a bomb July 22 that killed eight people outside government headquarters in Oslo and then going on a shooting spree at the Labour Party’s youth camp, killing 69 people.

More than half of the victims were teenagers. He rejects criminal guilt for the rampage, saying the victims had betrayed their country by embracing immigration.

“I see all multicultural political activists as monsters, as evil monsters who wish to eradicate our people, our ethnic group, our culture and our country,” he told the court on Tuesday.

The self-styled crusader apologised to the family of a pub owner who was among the victims in the bomb blast, saying it was not his intention to kill “civilians.”

But he refused to apologise to the families of those killed on Utoya island, where members of the Labour Party’s youth wing had gathered for their annual summer retreat.

“Utoya is a political indoctrination camp,” he said. Jon Hestnes, who heads a support group for victims’ families and survivors, told The Associated Press it was “gruesome” to listen to Breivik’s apology but it clearly showed that the man was insane. (AP)

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