Anders Behring Breivik has defended his actions in court, claiming that he killed 77 people in Norway last year out of “goodness, not evil”. The 33-year-old right wing extremist began his trial in Oslo on Monday, pleading not guilty to mass murder and terror charges despite admitting setting a bomb outside government offices and going on a shooting spree at a youth camp on July 22.
Boasting of the attacks, Breivik told the court, “I have carried out the most spectacular and sophisticated attack on Europe since World War II.”He claimed to have toned down his rhetoric out of respect for the victims’ families, but said his actions were “based on goodness, not evil”. Finishing his opening statement, Breivik said he was defending Norway against immigration and multiculturalism.
In its cross examination, the prosecution quizzed the Norwegian national about his claim to be a member of the Knight of Templar group, which many say doesn’t exist. Breivik admitted that he may have previously described the organisation in a “pompous” manner, but said it does have a few members.
Breivik’s evidence, which will be given over five days, will likely be crucial in determining whether or not he is criminally insane. Court psychiatrists will be observing him closely after two previous reports arrived at conflicting conclusions about his mental state.
Breivik has denied that he is insane and claims being committed to psychiatric care would be a fate worse than death. He says he is not daunted by the prospect of a 21-year prison sentence, however.
According to the BBC, Breivik was very business-like during the trial, only smiling once when one of three lay judges (a member of the public forming part of the judging panel) was dismissed for commenting on a social networking site that the killer should be given the death penalty.
The trial, held in a specially built courtroom designed to accommodate up to 200 observers, is expected to last around 10 weeks.