Inside the Breivik trial

The prosecution has deconstructed Breivik’s elaborate fantasies.

In Britain he would already be in Broadmoor. Here, Anders Behring Breivik, 33, who killed 77 in a gruesome bombing and shooting spree last July, is in only the first week of a ten week trial.

Most people in this proudly liberal country are commendably committed to this due legal process (any person who faces the prospect of a ten year sentence or more, must be given a full trial regardless of his plea). Though many fear he is being given a platform to voice his violently anti-immigrant views. Norway’s tradition of non-confrontational advocacy means he has not even faced the kind of Anglo-Saxon adversarial court many of the bereaved families would have wished.

There is no vow; no legal obligation for a defendant to tell the truth – nor even answer the questions posed. This partly explains the gentle, almost consensual, approach prosecutors here take to cross-examination. Yet by picking at his inflated self-image, Inga Bejer Engh and Svein Holden, the two youthful public prosecutors, have successfully painted Mr Breivik as a penniless and obsessive loner.

It took Breivik nine years to write his rambling 1,500 page “manifesto” about the deconstruction of Norway. Engh managed, in one forensic afternoon, to deconstruct Breivik’s elaborate fantasies. Pressed on his supposed membership of a shadowy terrorist organisation, the Knights Templar, Breivik was forced to admit his tract which documents the supposed inauguration was pompous and badly written.

“I know what you are trying to do,” he said to her on the first of many occasions. “You are trying to humiliate me.” He sweated and squirmed in his chair as Ms Engh innocently read out a section from the manifesto, in which Breivik claimed he had been approached to found the Knights Templar because he was particularly gifted.

“If I may ask, what is the purpose of this. What you are doing now? What do you want to arrive at? What is the purpose? Your intention is to try to sow doubt into whether this network exists. That is your purpose.”

Reading from the document,  Engh quoted: ““I remember they did a complete screening and background check to ensure I was one of the desired calibre. They were considering several hundred individuals throughout Europe for a training course”

“Before you continue I hope that you will try to ridicule me less and concentrate on the case more,” he said.

Engh replied: “I won’t ridicule you. Don’t get fixated on my opinion because that is not important. We just want you to talk Breivik.”

Breivik has admitted blowing up eight in a car bomb in the centre of Oslo before slaying a further 69, mostly teenage, members of the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing in a shooting spree on the nearby holiday island of Utoya. His guilt is not in doubt. The question for this court is whether or not he is sane. Breivik wishes to be considered so. The prosecution’s case is structured around proving otherwise. Their cause is complicated by the lack of UK-style reporting restrictions, which gives Breivik access to the thoughts and opinions of journalists and commentators who have dissected at length the two prosecutors’ handling of the case.

The pair have become media stars. Their faces are on the cover of newspapers while their tactics and styles are the subject of dozens of pages inside. By turns, ingratiating, derisive, deferential and condescending, the pair have consistently rattled  Brevik. Holden has used a sardonic, mocking tone, particularly when he talked to Breivik about his “sabbatical year” spending 16 hours a day playing World of Warcraft. “You are giving the impression that I moved back home and rented a room in my mother’s house because I had gone bankrupt,” answered Breivik, smarting again at the “humiliation.”

Their strategy has been to expose his fantasies in those parts of his testimony where the defence and prosecution disagree, and hand him rope where they do. For the bereaved families in the court this tactic can be painful. As he spoke with chilling lack of emotion about ending the lives of the children on Utoya, savoured the moment when he was allowed to describe - in painstaking detail - the construction of the bomb which killed eight in the centre of Oslo, then calmly informed the prosecutors that he wished he’d killed more, people in the court openly wept.

Given 70 minutes to read from a prepared statement, comparing his victims on Utoya to Hitler Youth, and telling their grieving parents that their dead children had forgone their innocence when they joined the Labour Party, the counsel for the aggrieved begged the judge to make him stop. Holden urged her to allow him to finish.

They could not have imagined that Breivik would break down and cry himself when he watched his own 12-minute propaganda victory, shown to the court on the afternoon after his diatribe. But the prosecutors’ ability to make him sweat and fidget when they put his fantastic claims from his manifesto under a microscope, then allow him to visibly soar as he describes his grisly deeds, demonstrated his lack of empathy and extreme narcissism almost as effectively.

Mark Lewis is a freelance journalist reporting from the Breivik trial.

Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik arrives inside room 250 of the central court in Oslo on April 20, 2012. Photograph: Getty Images.
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The World Cup you’ve never heard of, where the teams have no state

At the Conifa world cup – this year hosted by the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia – ethnic groups, diaspora communities and disputed territories will battle for footballing glory.

Football's European Championship and the Olympics are set to dominate the back pages over the next few months. How will Team GB fare in Rio? Will the zika virus stop the tournament even going ahead? Will the WAGS prove to be a distraction for the Three Lions? And can Roy Hodgson guide England to a long-awaited trophy?

But before the sprinters are in their blocks or a ball has been kicked, there's a world cup taking place.

Only this world cup is, well, a bit different. There's no Brazil, no damaged metatarsals to speak of, and no Germany to break hearts in a penalty shootout.  There’s been no sign of football’s rotten underbelly rearing its head at this world cup either. No murmurs of the ugly corruption which has plagued Fifa in recent years. Nor any suggestion that handbags have been exchanged for hosting rights.

This biennial, unsung world cup is not being overseen by Fifa however, but rather by Conifa (Confederation of Independent Football Associations), the governing body for those nations discredited by Fifa. Among its member nations are ethnic groups, diaspora communities or disputed territories with varying degrees of autonomy. Due to their contested status, many of the nations are unable to gain recognition from Fifa. As a consequence they cannot compete in tournaments sanctioned by the best-known footballing governing body, and that’s where Conifa provides a raison d’être.

“We give a voice to the unheard”, says Conifa’s General Secretary, Sascha Düerkop, whose world cup kicks off in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia at the end of this week.

“We are proud to give our members a forum where they can put themselves on the map.

“From that we hope to give back in the long run and invest in the football infrastructure in our member nations to help them grow.”

The two week footballing celebration starts with an opening ceremony before Kurdistan and Székely Land kick off the tournament. It follows on from 2014’s maiden competition which saw The County of Nice avenging a group stage defeat to Ellan Vannin from the Isle of Man, to take the spoils in the final via a penalty shoot-out.  There were some blowout scores of note however, with South Ossetia smashing Darfur 20-0 and Kurdistan beating the Tamils 9-0 at the event which took place in Östersund, Sweden. Neither of the finalists will be returning to the tournament – throwing down the gauntlet to another twelve teams. 

This, the second Conifa world cup, is testament to the ever-expanding global footprint of the tournament. Abkhazia will welcome sides from four continents – including Western Armenia, the Chagos Islands, United Koreans in Japan and Somaliland.

Despite the “minor” status of the countries taking part, a smattering of professional talent lends credibility to the event. Panjab can call on the experience of ex-Accrington Stanley man Rikki Bains at the heart of their defence, and the coaching savoir-faire of former Tranmere star Reuben Hazell from the dugout. Morten Gamst Pedersen, who turned out for Blackburn Rovers over 300 times and was once a Norwegian international, will lead the Sapmi people. The hosts complete the list of teams to aiming to get their hands on silverware along with Padania, Northern Cyprus, and Raetia.

A quick glance down said list, and it’s hard to ignore the fact that most of the nations competing have strong political associations – be that through war, genocide, displacement or discrimination. The Chagos Islands is one such example. An archipelago in the Indian Ocean, Chagos’ indigenous population was uprooted by the British government in the 1960s to make way for one of the United States' most strategically important military bases – Diego Garcia.

Ever since, they've been campaigning for the right to return. Their side, based in Crawley, has crowdfunded the trip to the tournament. Yet most of its members have never stepped foot on the islands they call home, and which they will now represent. Kurdistan’s efforts to establish an independent state have been well-highlighted, even more so given the last few years of conflict in the Middle East. The hosts too, broke away from Georgia in the 1990s and depend on the financial clout of Russia to prop up their government.

Despite that, Düerkop insists that the event is one which focuses on action on the pitch rather than off it. 

“Many of the nations are politically interested, but we are non-political,” he says. 

“Some of our members are less well-known in the modern world. They have been forgotten, excluded from the global community or simply are ‘unpopular’ for their political positions.

“We are humanitarians and the sides play football to show their existence – nothing more, nothing less.”

The unknown and almost novel status of the tournament flatters to deceive as Conifa’s world cup boasts a broadcast deal, two large stadiums and a plush opening ceremony. Its aim in the long run, however, is to develop into a global competition, and one which is content to sit below Fifa.

“We are happy to be the second biggest football organisation,” admits Düerkop.

“In the future we hope to have women’s and youth tournaments as well as futsal and beach soccer.”

“Our aim is to advertise the beauty and uniqueness of each nation.”

“But the most important purpose is to give those nations that are not members of the global football community a home.”

George Weah, the first African winner of Fifa World Player of the Year award remarked how “football gives a suffering people joy”.

And after speaking to Düerkop there’s certainly a feeling that for those on the game’s periphery, Conifa’s world cup has an allure which offers a shared sense of belonging.

It certainly seems light years away from the glitz and glamour of WAGs and corruption scandals. And that's because it is.

But maybe in a small way, this little-known tournament might restore some of beauty lost by the once “beautiful game”.