Anders Behring Breivik was criminally insane when he killed 77 people in Norway and is likely to be sent to a psychiatric ward, possibly for the rest of his life, prosecutors said on Tuesday on the basis of a forensic examination.
Two psychiatrists who have been examining the 32-year-old right-wing extremist since his twin attacks on July 22 concluded in the report they handed over to the Oslo district court on Tuesday that he had over time developed “paranoid schizophrenia.”
Prosecutors said that if the diagnosis is confirmed by a forensic medicine board, they would ask for him to be sentenced to “compulsory mental health care,” possibly for life, instead of prison.
“The experts describe a person who finds himself in his own delusional universe, where all of his thoughts and acts are governed by these illusions,” prosecutor Svein Holden told reporters in Oslo.
The two experts, who conducted 13 interviews over 36 hours with Breivik, described in their 243-page report a person who had “grandiose illusions whereby he believes he is to determine who is to live and who is to die,” Holden said.
He “committed these executions out of love for his people, as he describes it,” Holden said.
On July 22, he first set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people.
After that, he went to the island of Utoeya, about 40km northwest of Oslo, where, disguised as a police officer, he spent nearly an hour-and-a-half methodically shooting and killing another 69 people attending a summer camp, most of them teenagers.
Although he has confessed to the facts, Breivik has refused to plead guilty, saying he was waging a war and that his actions were “atrocious, but necessary.”
The confessed killer, who previously said he was on a crusade against multiculturalism and the “Muslim invasion” of Europe, predicted, according to the psychiatric evaluation, a scenario whereby his alleged organization, “the Knights Templar, take over power in Europe and he puts himself forward tentatively as the future regent in Norway.”
The populist right-wing and anti-immigration Progress Party, which once counted Breivik as a member, demanded a new evaluation of the gunman.
“It is completely incomprehensible and surprising that an individual who has planned these acts in such detail and who has proven himself capable of carrying them out should be declared unaccountable,” vice party chair Per Sandberg told the VG daily’s online edition.
Among survivors of the island massacre, reactions varied.
“It feels good to hear that this man is crazy,” Adrian Pracon, who was seriously injured on Utoeya, said on Twitter.
“It was obvious that he was not normal, but you can have serious psychological symptoms and still be [criminally] responsible,” another survivor, Torunn Kanutte Husvik, told the NTB news agency.
Jarl Robert Christensen, who lost his 15-year-old daughter on the island, said the psychiatric conclusions were “the worst possible” for Breivik, who considers himself a great thinker.
This “pulverizes his whole ideology, and I feel good about that,” he told the commercial TV2 News Channel. “But for us, no punishment will ever be enough.”