The Norwegian anti-Islamic gunman who killed 77 people said at his trial yesterday his shooting spree and bomb attack were “sophisticated and spectacular” and that he would do the same thing again.
Anders Behring Breivik, 33, has pleaded not guilty and said he was defending his country by setting off a car bomb that killed eight people at government headquarters in Oslo in July last year, then killing another 69 people in a shooting spree at a youth summer camp organized by the ruling Labor Party.
“I have carried out the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack committed in Europe since the Second World War,” Breivik told the court in a prepared statement. “They [Norwegians] risk being a minority in their own capital in their own country in the future.”
“Yes, I would have done it again, because offences against my people ... are many times as bad,” he said, taking to the stand for the first time.
While he has admitted the killings and will likely be kept behind bars for the rest of his life, Breivik’s main objective is to prove he is sane, a court judgment that he sees as vindicating his anti-Muslim and anti-immigration cause.
The high school dropout has said being labeled insane would be a “fate worse than death.”
If found guilty and sane, Breivik faces a maximum 21-year sentence, but could be held indefinitely if he is considered a continuing danger. If declared insane, he would be held in a psychiatric institution indefinitely with periodic reviews.
Norway does not have the death penalty.
Breivik’s testimony will not be broadcast on television due to concerns that the gunman could use the trial as propaganda for his violent cause.
The day began in controversy after the court dismissed a lay judge after he posted a comment on a Facebook page days after the massacre saying the gunman should face the death penalty.
Two professional judges, as well as three lay judges chosen from civil society, preside over the court. The judge, who will be replaced, posted “The death penalty is the only just outcome of this case” on a Facebook page.
Breivik appeared for the first time in court on Monday, giving a clenched-fist salute, smirking at the court and pleading not guilty in a trial that threatens to showcase his anti-Islamic views.
Breivik listened impassively on Monday for hours as prosecutors read out an indictment detailing how he massacred teenagers trapped on an island resort outside Oslo. He only shed tears when the court later showed one of his propaganda videos.
Breivik shot most of his victims several times, often using the first shot to take down his target then following up with a shot to the head. His youngest victim was 14. He later surrendered as “commander of the Norwegian resistance movement.”
Some Norwegians fear Breivik will succeed in turning the trial, with about 800 journalists on hand, into a platform for his anti-immigrant ideas.
One Norwegian paper offered online readers a way to remove all Breivik-related stories.
His defense team has called 29 witnesses to argue Breivik was sane, with a worldview shared by a narrow group of people.