Show Hide image

Anders Breivik pleads not guilty to Norway massacre

The right-wing extremist admits killing 77 people but claims it was self-defence.

Anders Behring Breivik, the man who carried out gun and bomb attacks in Norway which left 77 people dead, has pleaded not guilty as his trial in Oslo began.

In a dramatic day, watched by the world, he told the court:

I acknowledge the acts but I do not plead guilty and I claim that I was doing it in self defence.

On 22 July, Breivik set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, before attacking a youth camp organised by the ruling Labour Party on the island of Utoeya. In the car bombing, eight people were killed and 209 wounded. His shooting spree on Utoeya killed 67 people and wounded 33, most of them teenagers. The prosecution today gave a detailed account of how each of his 77 victims was killed.

As soon as his handcuffs were removed, Breivik gave a close-fisted salute to the court. He said that he rejected the authority of the court "because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism".

After playing a propaganda video he had made to justify his actions, Breivik wiped away tears.

This video includes some of today's key moments:

His lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said that Breivik wants to use a "supporting document" as part of his opening statement which will take around half an hour to read out. This will fuel concerns - not helped by today's video - that the accused will use the trial as a platform for his views. Lippestad acknowledged these worries but said that Breivik's testimony was vital to establish his sanity.

If the court decides that Breivik is criminally insane, he will be committed to psychiatric care. If it finds that he is mentally stable, he faces a jail sentence of 21 years, which could be extended til the end of his life. One examination found him to be insane, while a second found him mentally competent.

The case continues.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.