Defiance of a fanatical gunman
Norwegian anti-Islamic militant Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 people last summer, arrived at an Oslo courthouse under armed guard yesterday.
Clenching his fist in a far-right salute, he said he did not recognise the authority of the judges.
Mr Breivik, 33, has admitted setting off a car bomb that killed eight people at the government headquarters in Oslo last July, and killing 69 in a shooting spree at a summer youth camp organised by the ruling Labour Party.
He entered the court in handcuffs, which were taken off just before he was seated and he smirked several times as they were removed.
He then put his right fist on his heart before extending his hand in salute.
“I do not recognise the Norwegian courts. You have received your mandate from political parties which support multiculturalism,” Mr Breivik said.
“I do not acknowledge the authority of the court.”
The “lone wolf” killer pleaded not guilty to terror charges, saying he was defending Norway against multiculturalism and Islam.
The trial is scheduled to last 10 weeks, during which time the judges must rule on both his guilt and his sanity.
More than 200 people took seats in the specially built Oslo courtroom while about 700 attack survivors and family members of victims watched on closed-circuit video around the country.
“Today the trial starts, and it will be a tough time for many,” survivor Vegard Groeslie Wennesland, 28, said outside the courtroom.
“Last time I saw him in person he was shooting my friends.”
Some Norwegians fear Mr Breivik will succeed in making the trial, with about 800 journalists on hand, a platform for his anti-immigrant ideas.
His defence team has called 29 witnesses, ranging from Islamists to right-wing bloggers, to shed light on his world view. Mr Breivik is due to testify for about a week, starting today.
“Your arrest will mark the initiation of the propaganda phase,” he wrote in a manual for future attackers, part of a 1,500-page manifesto he posted online.
“Your trial offers you a stage to the world.”
In a recent letter seen by Norwegian newspaper VG, Mr Breivik added: “The court case looks like it will be a circus ... it is an absolutely unique opportunity to explain the idea of the manifesto to the world.”
Last July 22, he set off the bomb before heading to the youth camp on Utoeya island in a lake 40 km outside Oslo, gunning down his victims while police took an hour to get to the massacre site in the chaos following the blast.
Mr Breivik has said he intended his attacks as punishment for “traitors” whose pro-immigration policies were adulterating Norwegian blood. An initial psychiatric test concluded that Mr Breivik was criminally insane while a second, completed in the past week, found no evidence of psychosis.
Resolving this conflict could be the five-judge panel’s major decision.
If found sane, Breivik faces a maximum 21-year sentence but could be held indefinitely if he is considered a continuing danger.
If declared insane by the court,he would be held in a psychiatric institution indefinitely with periodic reviews.
The courthouse, accessible through airport-style security checks, is already barricaded by TV trucks after 200 media organisations descended on Oslo, home of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The country’s biggest courtroom can seat just over a tenth of the journalists, victims and relatives who may wish to attend, so closed-circuit viewing rooms have been set up nearby and in 17 other courthouses around Norway.
Mr Breivik’s proposed witnesses include Mullah Krekar, the Kurdish founder of Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, who was recently jailed in Norway for making death threats, and “Fjordman”, a right-wing blogger and influence on the accused.
Norway‘s legal system gives defendants wide leeway to defend themselves as they wish, but judges can trim the witness list.
The trial will also examine Mr Breivik’s initial claim that he was part of an organisation of “Knights Templar” with similar views.
Police said evidence now points to solitary attacks by Mr Breivik after years of radicalisation.
Lone wolf attackers have become an increasing security risk worldwide, with US President Barack Obama last year saying they now pose a greater danger than large, coordinated actions.
And suddenly, Breivik in tears
Anders Behring Breivik listened impassively as prosecutors detailed the victims and causes of death. He was even almost smiling at one point when prosecutors recalled elements of his past.
But as lawyers played back a video he had broadcast on the day of the attacks, tears welled up in his eyes.
Was it remorse, emotion or agony? Speculation was rife outside the courtroom.
Prosecutor Svein Holden screened the 12-minute film after another lawyer described how the victims had died.
It was a sequence of photos and sketches of Muslims set to soft music.
And then came the tears.
His face red with emotion and lips trembling, Mr Breivik wiped his face several times. What prompted the reaction?
Geir Lippestad, his main lawyer, told reporters later that he appeared to have cried over his feelings that his attacks were “cruel but necessary ... to save Europe from an ongoing war. Those were the feelings he was having.”
His other legal representative, Vibeke Hein Baere, later refused to confirm this.
But Mette Yvonne Larsen, a lawyer for 20 of the affected families, said she thought Mr Breivik “felt sorry for himself, not for the families. He loves so much his childish movie.”
John Kyrre Lars Hestnes, a member of the victims’ support group, said: “It was not a sign of regret at all. A man who has done what he has done does not get any sympathy from me, that’s for sure.”