The gunman who killed 77 people in Norway’s massacres showed no emotion on Friday as he recalled shooting his victims at point-blank range — but insisted he was a nice person, not a psychiatric case.
Anders Behring Breivik said he had trained himself to shut out emotions, but acknowledged that his twin attacks last July were “gruesome, barbaric actions.”
He had had to work on his psyche for many years, he said, because “you can’t send an unprepared person into war.”
The 33-year-old right-wing extremist gave chilling details of his shooting spree on Utoeya island, describing how he calmly walked across the island, picking off his victims, one by one.
In his rampage on July 22 last year Breivik first bombed an Oslo government building, killing eight people, then he traveled to a Labour Party youth camp on the nearby island of Utoeya and shot dead 69 people, most of them teenagers.
Breivik has said he was motivated by the belief that Norway is being overrun by a “Muslim invasion.” He claimed to be part of a militant ultra-nationalist network named after the Knights Templar, a Christian military order.
On Friday, he warned the courtroom that those who did not want to hear the “gruesome” details of his shooting spree should leave the room. He went on to give his account, unmoved despite the horror and cruelty he was describing.
He described stalking the island for more than an hour, shooting round after round, forcing many to jump into the icy waters to try to flee as he continued to fire his rifle and Glock pistol.
“There is a person 15 meters from the entrance ... I walk calmly over to him and shoot him in the head,” Breivk said. “There is another group in the other corner, and I shoot all of them.”
Many of the victims were shot several times in the head and back, a fact that Breivik, who was dressed as a police officer to give the campers a false sense of security, -attributed to “follow-up shots.”
“Some of them were playing dead, that’s why I fired so many times,” he said.
Survivors, families of victims and even a few journalists in the courtroom cried as he recounted each killing. Two women hugged each other as they wiped away tears. Others unable to stand the gruesome litany, left the courtroom.
However, Tore Sinding Bekkedal, who survived the carnage, listened to every word.
“When you’ve lived through such a thing, you have a pretty high tolerance for horror,” the 23-year-old said.
A lawyer for the families, Frode Elgesem, told reporters: “What perhaps has made this a powerful experience for everybody ... is to see the way he discusses what he has done.”
Breivik said earlier on the stand that he was not “a psychiatric case,” telling the court he was a “caring person” who spent years meditating to “de-emotionalize” himself.
“I am a very likable person under normal conditions,” he said.
“I was rather normal until 2006 when I started my training,” he said, adding that he cut back his social life to focus on his goal.
“You have to choose tactics and strategies to dehumanize ... the enemy ... those who I see as legitimate targets,” he said. “If I hadn’t done that ... I wouldn’t have managed to do it.”
Breivik said his “technical” wording and cold demeanor during his testimony was necessary to “distance himself” and to hold up throughout his trial, which is expected to last until mid-June.