Breivik spared himself to spruik his “cause”


Anders Behring Breivik had considered killing himself just before he was arrested for having killed 69 people at a youth camp, he told a court yesterday.Anders Behring Breivik had considered killing himself just before he was arrested for having killed 69 people at a youth camp, he told a court yesterday.

“I thought, ‘Do I really want to survive this? I will be the most hated man in Norway and every day for the rest of my life will be a nightmare.

“Then I looked at my Glock [pistol]: ‘Should I shoot myself in the head?’”

But he decided it was more important for his “cause” — fighting multiculturalism and Islam in Europe — to have a trial and use it to air his political views.

Breivik told the court he had managed to get onto the island of Utoya, home to a Labour Party summer camp for teenagers, by dressing as a policeman and telling people he had been ordered there following a bomb explosion in Oslo [which he had planted, killing eight].  The ferry to the island, which had been halted following news of the bomb, returned to pick him up.

The head of security on Utoya Island asked why she had not been told he was coming and he told her Oslo was in chaos after the explosion because half its police were on summer holidays. “She bought it,” he said. She and another security guard were the first two people he killed when he reached the island.

He said the first shot was the hardest — “I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this? There were 100 voices in my head saying ‘Don’t do it!’”

But he decided, “This is now or never.” After that he went into fight-or-flight mode and stopped analysing his feelings, he said.

To frighten people he shouted, “You are going to die today, Marxists!”  This made people “panic completely”, he said.

He described several groups of people standing still as if “paralysed” as he walked up to them to shoot them. He said he shot many people several times because he realised that some of those he first attacked had “played possum” and pretended to be dead.

He had shot people who ran away, a man who tried to stop him, a man who begged “Please, friend!” and a boy who came out of a tent wearing an iPod and didn’t know what was happening. He had also shot at a boat that he thought might have helped survivors in the water, he said.

He went up to one group and asked, “Have you seen him?”, so that they would think he was helping and not run away, he said. He used smoke grenades to try to make others come out of a building.

But he had left alive one boy and one girl he thought looked younger than 16. He believed he should not kill anyone under that age.

Breivik said he would have stopped killing if he had been able to speak to a senior officer the first time he rang police on a mobile phone from the island. “Since they hadn’t called me back, I thought they didn’t intend to let me surrender, so I might as well continue until I am killed.”

He denied reports that he had laughed and smiled as he committed the atrocities.

Breivik said he would not have gone to Utoya Island if his bomb attack in central Oslo earlier in the day had been more “successful”. He believed he needed a higher death toll in order to get media attention, he said.

Breivik said he believed he had “fairly normal emotional patterns” before 2006, when he began meditation exercises to dull fear so that he could commit the attacks. This also had the effect of dulling other emotions.

“I don’t think I could have gone through this trial without trying to de-emotionalise,” he said. “If I tried to understand the suffering I had caused, I wouldn’t be able to sit here today? I don’t even try to take it in.”

First published in The Age.

Breivik found sane, faces life imprisonment

THE Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has been found responsible for his crimes and faces life in prison.

THE Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has been found responsible for his crimes and faces life in prison.

A panel of five judges led by Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, who read the judgment, declared their verdict to be unanimous.

Breivik smiled briefly when he heard the verdict of guilt over terrorism offences and premeditated murder. Earlier he had made a straight-armed fascist salute in court.

The judges effectively found that Breivik was sane when he slaughtered 77 people last year and sentenced him to ”preventive detention”. This is different to a normal prison sentence, which carries a maximum of 21 years.

Breivik will be assessed after 21 years and his sentence could be extended if he is considered to still be a threat to society.

Consignment to a psychiatric ward would have no time limit.

Breivik, who had fought against a finding of insanity because he did not want to be dismissed as a madman, had said psychiatric care would be ”worse than death”.

Breivik was charged with terrorism offences after twin attacks on July 22 last year. He set off a 950-kilogram car bomb in central Oslo that killed eight people, then took a boat to Utoeya Island where he strode around dressed in police uniform and shot 69 people, most of them teenagers, who were attending a summer camp for the youth wing of Norway’s Labour Party. He injured 242 people.

Breivik, 33, claimed he was fighting the ”Islamicisation” of Norway and Europe and called on others to join his crusade against left-wing multiculturalists and the immigration of Muslims.

The question for the court had not been whether Breivik committed the atrocities – he admitted his actions – but whether he was mad or bad, which would determine whether he should be hospitalised or jailed.

Psychiatrists had been divided over his mental state. The first court-appointed panel found him to be a paranoid schizophrenic but a second, while diagnosing several disorders, declared he would not have been psychotic when he committed the attacks.

The prosecution had called for him to be sent to a psychiatric hospital. Breivik himself said he was sane and demanded jail, to enhance what he saw as his status as a national hero, a right-wing cultural warrior defending his people against invasion.

The victims’ families had wanted him to be found sane so he could be held responsible for what they saw as a political crime. Seventy per cent of Norwegians polled shared this view.

After the verdict a survivor, Eivind Rindal, told a Norwegian newspaper: ”The most important thing is that he never gets out. There are many who share his extreme views in our society.”

A bereaved relative said: ”Now he will be locked up for life and we can forget about him.”

The court’s decision means there will be no appeal. One of his lawyers, Geir Lippestad, had promised that his client would not contest a jail sentence.

The gunman is expected to live a regimented life at the high-security Ila prison near Oslo.

Breivik has spent his time in detention writing his memoirs, according to another of his lawyers, Tord Jordet. He plans to finish the book in the first half of next year and has received unconfirmed offers from publishers in southern Europe, Mr Jordet said.

The killings shone a spotlight on far-right extremism and tensions over multiculturalism in a country that had previously been noted for its peacefulness.

There is a growing consensus in Norway that the feeling of national unity, symbolised by the huge ”rose marches” in which hundreds of thousands marched in defiance during the aftermath of the attacks, has slowly ebbed away as the country becomes divided over the issues of rising immigration and cultural integration.

Thorbjoern Jagland, a former prime minister and the chairman of the Nobel peace prize committee, believes Norway learnt nothing from the tragedy: ”People at the political level have been more cautious regarding the debate around integration and Muslims, but if you look at what is going on at the grassroots level it has not changed.”

Kari Helene Partapuoli, of Oslo’s anti-racist centre, said the government had not started programs to improve cultural awareness.

First published in The Age.

Lawyer back with family, awaits ICC questions


AUSTRALIAN lawyer Melinda Taylor has been reunited with her husband and put her two-year-old daughter, Yasmina, to bed for the first time since she was released from 3½ weeks of captivity in Libya on spying allegations.
“We need to just sleep in and try and get back to normal,” Ms Taylor’s husband, Geoffrey Roberts, told the Herald in a text message yesterday.
However, Ms Taylor’s ordeal may not be over. The International Criminal Court has said it will investigate Libyan claims about Ms Taylor’s conduct.
Ms Taylor’s mother, Janelle Taylor, told the ABC’s 7.30 last night her daughter was coping very well but was surprised at the level of media attention.
“She said, ‘Why would they be interested in me?’ ” Mrs Taylor said.
She said her daughter spoke about how happy she was to be home, but did not discuss any of the details of her captivity.
John Taylor added that he thought his daughter was “unwinding”.
“It was an unpleasant experience, I’m sure. She’ll keep that within herself for a while, I’d say,” Mr Taylor said.
Mrs Taylor said she believed her daughter would be undergoing counselling and a medical examination.
The family thanked those who had provided support during her captivity, including the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr.
“Melinda’s only just realising what sort of work Bob Carr has done for her and she intends … to thank him personally,” Mrs Taylor said.
Mr Carr, who had been involved in negotiations for Ms Taylor’s release, said at times he had feared Ms Taylor might not be released quickly. There were points at which the process was taking too long and he feared the worst, he said.
Ms Taylor, a lawyer with the ICC based at The Hague, arrived on a private chartered jet at a small secondary terminal at Rotterdam airport about 9am yesterday, Australian time.
She and three colleagues who had been with her in Libya spent about 45 minutes with officials before leaving in a convoy that included the ICC president, Song Sang-Hyun.
The Libyans allege Ms Taylor had been caught carrying “spying devices” and documents that breached national security.
They allege she had carried coded documents for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Saif is the son of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi and is a prisoner in jail in the town of Zintan, which is held by a rebel militia.
The ICC wants to try him for crimes against humanity during his father’s rule. Ms Taylor was assigned to speak with him about his legal representation.
In a letter to the United Nations Security Council obtained by The Guardian, Libya claimed she tried to pass Saif a secret letter from Mohammad Ismail, Saif’s “main aide” and an associate of Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi.
They allege Ms Taylor also took to the consultation with Saif a miniature “video camera pen” and a watch “that functions for the same purpose”.
Ms Taylor’s supporters have said she is highly professional and would never have behaved improperly. They speculated some of the claims might be the result of failure to understand the normal lawyer-client relationship, which involves exchanging documents and recording evidence.
Senator Carr said yesterday: “Talking to [Ms Taylor’s parents] John and Janelle, I had to tell them the evidence was ambiguous.”

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Assange loses his final appeal … bar one


THE WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has lost his final appeal in a British court and faces extradition to Sweden where he is accused of rape and sexual assault.
But the Supreme Court gave Mr Assange a stay of 14 days on the extradition order so his lawyer, Dinah Rose, QC, could apply to have the proceedings reopened. She said the judgment was partly based on a legal question that had not been raised during the hearing and which she had not had a chance to argue. She said this related to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
Mr Assange did not appear in court. Supporters later said he had been stuck in traffic.
In a majority decision of five to two, the judges decided that the European Arrest Warrant issued by Sweden asking for Mr Assange’s extradition was legal and should be enforced.
If the court does not allow its proceedings to be re-opened, his only other legal avenue would be the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. If that court should agree to take his case, he would be allowed to remain in Britain until the hearing.
The sex allegations relate to a visit to Stockholm that Mr Assange made in August 2010 when he had encounters with two women. One later complained to police that he had not used a condom, despite her insistence, and another that he had had sex with her while she was asleep. Mr Assange strongly denies the claims and says the encounters were fully consensual.
Outside the court, one of his solicitors, Gareth Peirce, said: “The judgment speaks for itself. The judges were clearly divided.”
The legal situation over European extradition warrants was “chaotic” and the British Parliament had implemented the law without understanding its implications. The journalist and lawyer John Pilger said: “I think the judgment was quite extraordinary in that it appears that the British Parliament has been misled by ministers and put forward this legislation based on English law, whereas most of Europe had looked at it in terms of European law. There is massive confusion.”
Mr Pilger said, “If it can happen to Julian Assange it can happen to any journalist.”
The Australian-born Mr Assange has been on bail with an electronic security monitor on his leg for more than a year after having been detained in December 2010 on a European Arrest Warrant. His legal team had argued that the warrant was not valid because it had been issued by a prosecutor and not a judge. A prosecutor was not a “judicial authority” as required by English law, they said.
The president of the court, Lord Justice Phillips, said the question had been difficult but the majority decided Britain’s Extradition Act was based on a European framework in which “judicial authority” was intended to include prosecutors such as the one who issued Mr Assange’s warrant. The European Arrest Warrant was introduced after the September 11 attacks in the US. Critics say it allows people to be moved from one European country to another without any requirement to show evidence.
One of Mr Assange’s lawyers had argued he was being persecuted, not prosecuted, because governments had been embarrassed by an avalanche of secret documents released by WikiLeaks. But a Swedish lawyer rejected the claim and said the women were victims.
Mr Assange’s team fears that if he goes to Sweden he could then be extradited to the US, where authorities are considering a range of charges against him over WikiLeaks including espionage and conspiracy.
American authorities link him to the US Army Private Bradley Manning, who faces court martial over 22 alleged offences, including “aiding the enemy” by leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.
US prosecutors reportedly believe Private Manning dealt directly with Mr Assange and “data-mined” secret databases “guided by WikiLeaks’ list of ‘Most Wanted’ leaks”.
Mr Pilger said Mr Assange should be protected by the first amendment to the US Constitution guaranteeing free speech. He accused the Obama Administration of “concocting” the case.First published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Chilling testimony turns spotlight on crimes of honour

Shafilea Ahmed’s parents are on trial for her murder, highlighting a vicious trend of hidden violence, writes Karen Kissane in London.

Her dreams were so ordinary: to be able to wear jeans and T-shirts, to go out with a nice boy, maybe to go to university and do law. But such dreams, for girls like Shafilea Ahmed, can be deadly.
Shafilea (pronounced Shafeela) was pretty and bright and full of spirit but she died at 17, in 2003. She had gone missing from her home in Cheshire, but her Pakistani-born parents did not report her absence to police. Her younger sister Alesha says it was they who killed her – in front of their other children – to save the family honour.
A taxi driver, Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his wife, Farzana, 49, are now on trial for their daughter’s murder. They have pleaded not guilty and the jury is still hearing the evidence.
But the case has turned the spotlight on so-called “honour” crimes in some of Britain’s migrant communities. About a dozen women a year die in acts of revenge over breaches of “honour” that might include refusing to wear traditional clothes or accept an arranged marriage, or choosing a man of whom the family disapproves.
UK police recorded more than 2800 honour attacks in 2010, a figure that is understated because only 39 of the country’s 52 police forces revealed their numbers. Among the 12 forces able to provide comparison figures from 2009, there was an overall rise of 47 per cent in such incidents. Five hundred of the attacks were in London.
The figures were released last December by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation following a freedom-of-information request. Due to under-reporting by women, “the reality is far darker” than the numbers suggest, says its director, Diana Nammi.
She says the victims are mainly of Asian or Middle Eastern backgrounds but also include Eastern Europeans. They die, or are abused, because “it’s easier to sacrifice a son or a daughter than it is to sacrifice a society or your extended family, who you are trying to please all the time”, one young woman in a refuge recently told the BBC.
The suicide rate among south Asian women in Britain is three times the national average, thought to be the result of women taking what they see as the only way out of an intolerable situation – or being forced to kill themselves.
For Shafilea, her sister claims, death was preceded by months of abuse, including at times starvation, beatings, and threats with a knife. Alesha told the court her parents had drugged Shafilea to make her compliant about getting on a plane back to Pakistan in 2003. When there, Alesha said, “My mum told Shafilea she would be staying in Pakistan and wouldn’t be going back.”
She drank bleach so that she would not be forced into an arranged marriage, Alesha said. Shafilea was flown back to Britain for treatment and spent three months in hospital. Her parents told her to say she had drunk the bleach because she mistook it for mouthwash in the dark, but she reportedly told another patient that she had taken it to avoid marriage.
A former patient, Foisa Aslam, told the court Shafilea had said her parents had accepted a formal offer for her but “she didn’t even love the guy … she wanted to get out of there but they had taken her passport from her”.
Nammi says Britain needs a detailed strategy to deal with honour-based violence. It is more usual for domestic violence to involve only a husband or father, but honour-based violence can have wider groups of perpetrators. “Sometimes it’s not only the very close family – father, mother, brother – but members of the extended family or the wider community can be involved. Sometimes a contract killer or a bounty hunter is hired. Some families will pay other people to track them down and find where they are living, and some will pay to have them killed. That’s happened in England a few times.”
She says it will take time to help traditional elements in some communities change their thinking, and meanwhile, the government needs to establish special refuges for women fleeing honour revenge attacks. “It’s not just about domestic violence, it’s about the risk of being killed,” she says. “Refuges are crucial but in the UK many refuges have closed” because of funding cuts.
She warns that some welfare organisations make a mistake in trying to mediate between the threatened girls or women and their angry families. But some women who are forced into reconciliation find themselves taken back to their country of origin, she says.
“There are cases of girls under 14 whose families say, ‘We won’t force her into marriage’, and they sign a piece of paper saying that and then the next day the girl disappears. I always advise social services not to negotiate with the family.”
The prosecutor, Andrew Edis, QC, told the Chester Crown Court that this case had taken a long time to come to trial because Alesha, now 23, did not tell her story to police until 2010, when she snapped after being arrested for taking part in a robbery at her parents’ home.
He said the jury must decide whether she was finally freeing herself of a dreadful family secret that had haunted her since she was 15, as she claimed – she told the court she had feared suffering Shafilea’s alleged fate if she spoke out – or making up “a wicked lie”.
But he questioned why she would make up such a story. Alesha claimed Shafilea died after a row that began over the fact she had worn a T-shirt to work. Her parents suffocated her by stuffing a carrier bag into her mouth and holding their hands over her nose and mouth so that she couldn’t breathe, Alesha said. She claimed she later saw her mother with black bin bags and wide brown tape and saw her father carrying a plastic-wrapped burden out to the car.
More than four months later, Shafilea’s badly decomposed remains were discovered near a river in Cumbria.
Alesha told the court her loyalty to her parents began to unravel when she went to university and found herself wanting the same freedoms her sister wanted – but being told the same things by her parents, who wanted her to go back to Pakistan and find a husband.
“That is when I saw that it is not normal and that what happened to my sister was wrong. When it’s your own parents, you don’t see things like that because you love them.”First published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Breivik planned to behead former PM


HIS voice is quiet, so quiet he had to be asked to adjust the microphone. His tone is conversational, his eye contact with the prosecutor steady and calm, his suit and tie properly sober. But somehow, Anders Behring Breivik’s cool and collected demeanour serves only to intensify the collective nausea in the courtroom.
In the same expressionless tone as when he remarked on how well he slept the night before the massacres in which he killed 77 people last July, he told how he had planned to take a digital camera to the Labour youth camp on Utoya island — as well as a knife and a bayonet — because he knew former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland was scheduled to be there.
“I had originally planned to bring an iPhone to film and to upload film to the internet of the execution of Gro Harlem Brundtland,” he said.
“I had a bayonet on my rifle and I also had a knife in addition and the plan was to chop her head off . . . while filming it and then upload the film [to the internet].”
Filming of beheadings, he added, was “a potent psychological weapon”. Although he had taken the idea from al-Qaeda, “it’s important to point out that decapitation is traditional European death penalty method and was practised in France till 1960 and was also practised previously in Norway”.
But the battery on the camera went flat and he decided that, anyway, he would not have time to upload the video before police arrived, so he abandoned the idea.
Breivik was forced to abandon a second plan, too. He had not intended to use his rifle and pistol — with which he killed 69 people, most of them teenagers — except to frighten them.
“The objective was not to shoot all of them but to use shooting weapons as a detonator [forcing people into the water around the island] and use the water as the weapon of mass destruction . . . I considered it extremely difficult to swim away from that [island].”
But the 500 or so people on the island did not flee into the water in great numbers. Breivik instead used 183 bullets to kill 69 of them. He shot one teenage girl six times.
The objective was not to kill 69, he said. “The objective was to kill them all.”
He chose soft-point bullets because they have greater stopping and killing power and he chose a pistol and a rifle for which he could buy large ammunition magazines.
He chose Utoya and its teenagers because another political target, such as Labour Party headquarters, would have resulted in the deaths of “innocent civilians”.
The teenagers on Utoya were political activists who supported multiculturalism and 44 of them held leadership positions in the youth wing, meaning they were neither innocent nor civilians, to his mind. But Breivik said shooting people was much harder than bombing them. “To do something like what happened on Utoya is contrary to human nature and to make yourself do something like that you have to work on yourself for a very long time,” he told the court. “If you are able to train yourself into hammering away your emotions and to despise death — but even then it is difficult . . . It’s easy to press a button [and detonate a bomb] but it’s very, very difficult to carry out something as barbaric as a firearms-based operation.” He had trained himself to deaden his emotions with daily meditation and visualisation.
Of the bomb he had earlier exploded outside government buildings in the heart of Oslo, Breivik said: “The aim was to kill the entire government of Norway including the Prime Minister. That was the primary objective of the attack on government offices . . . in the best-case scenario.”
He considered that attack to have failed because it did not kill what he saw as his minimum prize: 12 people (eight died in the blast).
Hour after hour, Breivik continued to answer the questions of the prosecutor who was trying to find out what he had been thinking as he prepared for his assaults.
Bereaved relatives looked distraught at his evidence.
Lawyers, those supposedly hardened professionals, wore expressions of disgust, horror or pain. Breivik’s right hand played with a ballpoint pen. Occasionally, he helped himself from a carafe of water: thirsty business, this. A couple of times he pronounced himself tired and asked for a break.
Prosecutor Svein Holden asked Breivik how he felt now about the attack on Utoya. Breivik said firmly: “I stand by Utoya and I stand by what I have done and I would still do it again.” For a moment, the courtroom fell utterly still.

First published in The Age.

Anger and resignation as Breivik spouts his views

OSLO: He gives a Nazi-style salute when he arrives in the courtroom each morning. He tells the court he rejects its authority because its mandate comes from political parties that support multiculturalism. And he admits that because he hates Muslims he killed 77 people and wishes it were more.
But Anders Behring Breivik is treated with grave civility in Oslo’s District Court and has five days of testimony in which to expound his twisted political views. To those used to the rigid laws of evidence in the British-style system of justice, the openness of this trial is extraordinary and, some have suggested, dangerous.
Why give the narcissistic Breivik a soapbox when that is just what he wants? Could he inspire other sick loners into copycat crimes? Is it right to allow him to wound victims’ families yet again by allowing him to denigrate the loved ones he killed?
In his first day of evidence, Breivik said the many teenagers he slaughtered at a Labour Party youth camp last July were not childlike innocents but more akin to Hitler Youth. He also attacked by name journalist Marte Michelet, who writes on Islamophobia and whose Iranian-born partner, Ali Esbati, survived the massacre on Utoya Island.
Breivik said Michelet, who had lectured at the camp, was an extreme Marxist and a traitor for having had a baby by Esbati, and her attendance showed how corrupt Labour’s youth wing was.
But Mr Esbati still strongly defends the openness of Breivik’s trial, and is one of many Norwegians who feel the court should have allowed Breivik’s evidence to be televised (the court has banned TV cameras from some parts of the proceedings: Breivik’s own testimony, the evidence of victims, and the screening of footage of his bomb blast).
Mr Esbati has said it was important to hear Breivik’s reasoning because his views could be found elsewhere in Europe: “These views are extreme but unfortunately, to a growing degree, they have been normalised and moved into the mainstream of European political debate; the idea that Muslims are problematic per se, the proposition that there are warlike situations in European countries and that we should take political action against that.”
Even those uncomfortable with the trial process acknowledge it has its merits. One of the rescuers at Utoya, Allan Jensen, told Sky News: “I don’t like him getting speaker’s corner for a whole week. I don’t think that’s good. But that’s democracy.”
More generally, many Norwegians are recoiling from the blizzard of Breivik media reports. Before his trial began, a survey found that one-third of Norwegians thought there had been too much coverage of his crimes. The newspaper Dagbladet has offered a no-Breivik button on its website. Before he committed his atrocities, Breivik wrote that the purpose of a trial for someone like him was to win more sympathisers.
The reporter Asne Seierstad wrote that the trial would give him what he wanted, “a stage, a pulpit, a spellbound, notebook-clutching, pencil-wielding audience … are we puppets on a string, or are we doing what’s right and necessary?”
Jon Johnsen, professor of law at the University of Oslo, told the Herald the openness was in accordance with Norwegian law and would help to debunk myths that might otherwise be created about Breivik’s motivation for what he had done. “Of course his views are offending but the question is whether they become more dangerous if he’s allowed to express them than if he’s not.”
Svein Bruras, associate professor of journalism at Volda University College, had been critical of some of the media coverage. But he too supports the openness of the trial, critical only of the decision to ban broadcasting of Breivik’s evidence.
“This is the most serious act of crime in Norway since World War II,” he said. “It affects the entire nation and a lot of people are following the court proceedings through the media and when they are denied the possibility of listening to Breivik, they are not given a full account of proceedings.” He said it was important for people to see his demeanour for themselves, given that a central question is whether Breivik is sane.
“I know he had other supporters out there, maybe not very many, and there’s a danger he may inspire other people, but I think we need to hear his explanations.”
Professor Bruras said the media had been responsible in their reporting and had not published gruesome details of the killings. In one example of such a judgment call, the Guardian journalist Helen Pidd refused to tweet some of Breivik’s comments at one point, saying they were “too heartless”.
Thomas Mathiesen, professor of sociology of law at Oslo University, said Breivik had not been able to distort the openness of Norway’s system because what he says is filtered through lawyers, journalists and the Norwegian people themselves, whose view of him is “markedly critical, and that means he doesn’t get across his message”.

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Man of stone Breivik reduces himself to tears

OSLO: The man in the white shirt was doomed. You knew it as soon as you saw the time he appeared on the grainy closed-circuit TV footage, walking towards the parked van in which Anders Behring Breivik had stashed a 950kg bomb.

The people watching the video in Oslo’s central courthouse knew that the blast went off at 3.25 pm. The man appeared in the video just three minutes before that.

The film showed that Breivik himself had already taken off on foot, walking steadily towards his next dance with death on Utoya Island, knowing that he had seven minutes to get out of range before his bomb’s fuse burned to its lethal end. The man in the white shirt, blurry, nameless and faceless to his hushed audience, had no such awareness.

In action movies, people are shown blown off their feet before being consumed by a blast. That did not happen here. An orange ball of flame spouted like dragon’s breath across the screen where the man had been. He was not seen again.

The blast that killed eight people was seen again, over and over, from cameras in different vantage points: the building whose windows blew out and shattered to the ground, shards of glass beating fluttering sheets of paper to the ground; the building surrounded by clouds of smoke, emerging grey and ghostly and covered with ash; the convenience store where customers ducked groceries that were flying off the shelves as if poltergeists were throwing tantrums and tins.

In court, Breivik sat impassively, apparently unmoved by his handiwork.

He seemed equally untouched by other dramatic evidence in this first day of his trial for the terrorist attacks in which his bomb and his shootings killed 77 people, mostly teenagers, last July.

Prosecutors played a desperate phone call that Renate Taarnes, 22, made from a toilet cubicle in a building on Utoya Island as Breivik systemically hunted down and killed the staff and teenagers at a summer camp for the Labour Party’s youth wing.

Taarnes, who had locked herself in the cubicle, told the operator: “There’s shooting all the time and there’s complete panic here!… There’s someone shooting, walking around shooting!”

Her voice dropped to a whisper: “He’s coming! He’s coming!”. She sobbed, and then grabbed at self-control and fell silent but for her panicked breathing.

Then the shots came. Crack crack crack crack crack. At least 23 shots were fired as she hung on to the phone and to her hope of rescue. Taarnes survived, but around her, seven people died and six were injured. In the next building he entered, Breivik killed another five. Then another 10, on the ill-named Lover’s Path.

At some point during this tale, Breivik, who has said he regrets not having killed more people, licked his lips, as if unsettled. But it was his lawyers who showed the emotion he should have been feeling; lead defence counsel Geir Lippestad looked grim and troubled, rubbing his hand over his face, and the face of second counsel Vibeke Hein Baera was crumpled with distress.

Breivik had remained blank-faced earlier in the day too, as a prosecutor took one hour and 10 minutes to read the indictment, a ghastly litany of relentless slaughter, of torn flesh and maimed lives. Every victim was named and their injuries described: Breivik’s bullets went through eyes and took sight, they destroyed arms and legs that had to be amputated, they ripped through brains and mouths and breasts and scrotums.

But the man of stone did weep at one point. The prosecutors showed a video Breivik had put together vilifying Muslims and glorifying his alleged crusade against them. To stirring music, it called for “infidels” to revolt against the domination of Islam in Europe. It showed a picture of a bloodied blonde woman with text that asked: “Has your daughter, sister or girlfriend experienced cultural enrichment by the Muslim community yet?”

As the video played, Breivik was apparently moved to tears and had to put a hand over his eyes.

He showed himself to be a man capable of being moved, but only by his own propaganda.

After all, every man has his breaking point.

First published on

Justice at last for Jeanette, as killer jailed

A French detective never doubted she would catch Jeanette O’Keefe’s killer, writes Karen Kissane.


FRENCH policewoman Captain Cathy Nicol first met Jeanette O’Keefe, the young Melbourne woman who would consume much of the next decade of her life, on January 2, 2001.
Nicol had been having lunch with colleagues from the criminal brigade, which is based in the graceful Louis XIV town of Versailles, when the call came. Two young boys had found a body in a sleeping bag in a car park on the dingy western outskirts of Paris.
Nicol was 25 and had been in the homicide brigade only six months. This was not her first murder case, but it would become her passion. The victim, so badly beaten she was unrecognisable, was a young woman, like herself.
Jeanette, 28, was the woman in the sleeping bag.
Nicol was determined to find this killer: Jeanette was “une innocente”, a nice Australian girl who had been caught like a fly in a web in one of the grim, hostile ghettos that scar the outer rings of the French capital.
“There are different categories of crime,” Nicol tells The Sunday Age through an interpreter. “There are gangs who do revenge killings; there are drug killings; there is alcohol and violence. But Jeanette was a completely innocent victim. She was the true victim, the poor girl who this never should have happened to.”
Her whole squad, she says, was touched by the case they came to call “L’affaire O’Keefe”.
Their years of perseverance paid off. On Friday, 11 years and six days after Jeanette was beaten and strangled to death on New Year’s Eve 2000, 37-year-old Adriano Araujo da Silva was jailed for 30 years, with a 20-year minimum, for her murder. He had pleaded not guilty and has vowed to appeal.
But for now, there is relief not just for Jeanette’s family — her parents, Kevin and Susan O’Keefe of Ferntree Gully, and her three siblings — but for the detective who was determined to track down her killer.
Nicol and Jeanette lived half a world away from each other, but they had in common things other than their youth. Nicol is small and slight, with piercing green eyes that blaze when she talks about the case, her words rapping out like machine-gun fire.
Jeanette was also small, “five foot nothing”, say her two sisters and brother, and she, too, was a pretty, green-eyed brunette.
They also shared a stubborn streak. Jeanette’s might have inadvertently led her to her death; Nicol’s helped to solve the case, though she scrunches up her face in Gallic distaste at the suggestion she is “stubborn”. “I am tenacious,” she declares.
There is another factor that led to the two women’s paths crossing: chance. A series of small mishaps seem to have led the normally cautious Jeanette into mortal danger on the night she was killed.
Eight years later, it was one small mishap followed by a routine police procedure that saw her killer caught.
Da Silva, a Brazilian-born petty criminal who was raised in Guyana before emigrating to France, told the court Jeanette, whom he met on the night she died, was the love of his life, the woman he saw as the future mother of his children.
Police told a different story. They alleged he had bashed the petite computer programmer around the head 13 times with an iron bar. When she regained consciousness, he strangled her with his hands. When that did not work, he strangled her a second time with an electric cord. Then he threw her body out a window before dragging it clear of his apartment block.
Jeanette was a reserved woman, careful about whom she let into her private circle, “not a person who went to nightclubs”, says her sister Denise. She was musical, writing ballads as a hobby and playing guitar, piano and violin.
She was also savvy, especially about work. Says her brother, Craig: “She went to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers and only earned $25,000 but they put her through a $10,000 course in Oracle [a computer script]. So then she quit and started being a consultant for $75 an hour.”
Jeanette had been travelling alone on a European holiday when she decided to study French in Paris during November and December 2000. She checked out of her hostel on December 31 because she was due to fly to the United States two days later.
The hostel took bookings by the month and staying even one more night would have cost her four weeks’ accommodation. “She didn’t want to spring for a hotel,” Denise says, and intended to stay at the home of a new French friend, Elise, before catching a flight to New York.
The plan was for Jeanette to get to the outer-suburban train station nearest Elise’s house, where Elise would pick her up with a car because she was carrying a large rucksack.
Here came the first mishap. Elise waited at the station for an hour, but Jeanette did not appear. Elise waited several more hours at home but did not hear from Jeanette. She is uncertain, now, whether she might have confused the time she was due to meet her friend. Neither of the women had mobile phones.
Jeanette called another friend, a man named Tony, to ask if she could stay with him. He agreed to meet her on the Champs Elysees but did not turn up as arranged, he later told police. This was Jeanette’s second mishap.
“He was annoyed at her because a few weeks earlier she had pulled out of an outing with him because she was sick,” Denise says. “Tony later told police that [he didn’t want her to stay over] because it meant he would have to sleep on the floor and he had a bad back. So he was deliberately late for the rendezvous.”
He later had a change of heart, but it was too late.
Jeanette, by now tired and stressed, with partygoers filling the centre of Paris, then rang Elise’s home and spoke to her mother. The mother gave her complex directions in French for getting to the train station again.
Police later worked out that Jeanette had made the call from a public phone box only 50 metres from where Tony had finally turned up to meet her.
Here came the third mishap: Elise’s mother did not replace the phone properly in the cradle. If Jeanette had tried to call again, she would not have got through.
A small woman with a large backpack, worried about the cost of a night in a hotel, was stranded in Paris. And here came Jeanette’s fourth and unluckiest mishap: she ran into Adriano da Silva, and for some reason agreed to go back to his apartment with him.
Her family thinks da Silva may have offered to carry her rucksack. Maybe she was lost on the wrong train. Maybe he offered to get her to a phone, speculates Denise. No one knows for sure because da Silva isn’t saying.
Ultimately, however, Denise believes at some point in the evening Jeanette “refused him [sex] and he lost it”.
Da Silva says he met her that night on the Champs Elysees — but he has said many things that he now admits were lies.
This was all unknown to Cathy Nicol when Jeanette’s body was discovered. Her squad’s first task was to identify the victim. It was not until Interpol in Canberra sent police Jeanette’s description that Nicol had a clue.
Nine days after they first knew their beloved Jeanette was missing, the O’Keefe family’s worst fears were realised.
In Paris, police tried to retrace her last hours. They spoke to people at the hostel and set up three lines of inquiry: kidnappers on the books; offenders who had committed crimes on trains; and about 200 single men in the apartments near where Jeanette’s body was found. The men were sent orders telling them to present to police to give a DNA sample. Only 10 men failed to respond. Da Silva, police realised much later, was one of them.
France’s full DNA database was only created in 2005-06, Nicol says, and it was another two years before technology was able to get a useful sample of the flesh found under the fingernails of Jeanette’s right hand. She had scratched her attacker.
It was this evidence that kept hope alive for Nicol. Never did she doubt that the killer would be found: “I knew that one day we would get a match.”
That day turned out to be February 2, 2009. Nicol said she will never forget the call confirming the database had found a match.
“It was incredible,” says Nicol, who had been emailing Jeanette’s mother for years. With tears in her eyes, she recalls: “I was oh, so happy. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.”
Nicol, by then the last remaining member of the original investigation team, shared the interrogation of da Silva, a man who lived on the edge of society.
He had been born to a white Brazilian mother who fostered him out as a toddler before he was retrieved by his black Brazilian father, who took him to French Guyana to grow up with his step-family. He had identity issues, a derogatory view of women, problems facing reality, and lacked the capacity to feel both compassion and guilt, a psychologist would later tell the court in Versailles.
He had been caught after he ran a police roadblock because he was unlicensed and uninsured. He later went to police claiming the vehicle had been stolen from him; they didn’t believe it and charged him, taking DNA as part of that process.
During the interrogation he denied ever having met Jeanette and said he didn’t recognise her photo. Told there was DNA evidence linking him to Jeanette’s murder, he said there must be a mistake, before creating an elaborate story about having saved her from two “black” attackers.
When he was told that not only was his skin found under her nails but one of his hairs had been found inside the sleeping bag she was dumped in, he asked to phone his girlfriend. Sitting in the police office opposite Nicol, he told his girlfriend that he had killed a woman with an iron bar — a detail not released publicly.
“We could see the relief when he confessed,” Nicol says. “When somebody wants to get the truth off their shoulders we see a physical change. He just relaxed.”
The team was too tired to celebrate, she says, as they hadn’t slept for 48 hours: “But it was a good tiredness.”
Celebration would have been premature. In April, after three months in jail, da Silva recanted.
In court last week he pleaded not guilty and Jeanette’s brother and sisters sat through a long and salacious tale in which he alleged consensual sex with Jeanette in a variety of ways. He claimed he threw her out when she refused more sex with him, and gave her the sleeping bag to sleep in.
Earlier in the trial, the judge warned him that his refusal to take responsibility would weigh against him. It did; 30 years is France’s maximum sentence.
Nicol was at work when the verdict was delivered. But she arrived later to congratulate Jeanette’s family and friends. They wanted a private photo to commemorate the moment and gathered under an archway in the court complex with uncertain expressions. What is the etiquette for this kind of snapshot?
At the end of the line stood Nicol, shoulders back, wearing the tiniest of smiles, and unshed tears in those fierce green eyes.HOW IT HAPPENED
December 31, 2000, 9pm Jeanette O’Keefe makes a phone call to a friend’s mother from the Champs D’Elysees in Paris, her last known contact
January 1, 2001
Adriano Araujo da Silva got rid of her body from his apartment by throwing it out a window and
dragging it to a spot 120 metres from his home.
January 2
Jeanette’s body is found. Police investigate, but leads prove fruitless.
Using new technology, a DNA sample is extracted from material found under Jeanette’s
fi ngernails and is registered with France’s DNA database.
February 2008
Da Silva runs a police roadblock because he is uninsured and unlicensed. He later goes to
police claiming the vehicle was stolen. They do not believe him and take his DNA. The sample
waits for months to be crosschecked.
February 2, 2009
French policewoman Cathy Nicol receives a call from a magistrate saying the DNA on Jeanette’s
fi le now has a match.
February 17
Da Silva is arrested
February 18
He phones his girlfriend, in front of police, and confesses to Jeanette’s killing.
February 19
He confi rms his confession, saying: “I know I am a criminal.”
He retracts his admissions, saying he was manipulated by police, who told him if he confessed he would receive only eight years’ jail.
January 6, 2012
He is found guilty of murder and sentenced to 30 years’ jail. He says he will appeal his conviction.

First published in The Sunday Age.

Melbourne family’s grief laid bare in French court

WITHOUT A TRACE – ‘It was nine days of weeping, of unbelievable torture’


THERE are many thoughts that torture the family of murdered young Australian woman Jeanette O’Keefe. One of the worst, her sister Denise told a French court on Thursday, was how she would have suffered while being strangled to death.
“Her worst fear, always, as a child and teenager, was that she couldn’t breathe,” Denise said. “She wouldn’t wear necklaces until she was much older. How did it feel [to be killed like that]?”
Denise, 42, and her sister Christine, 31, stood in the Versailles courtroom holding each other up, with one speaking for the other each time one broke down — which was often.
They were telling a judge, two magistrates and six jurors what the effect had been on the O’Keefe family of the death of Jeanette on New Year’s Eve 11 years ago. She failed to board a flight she had booked to New York, and her body was later found bashed, strangled and dumped in a sleeping bag in a car park in a dingy Paris suburb.
Earlier in the trial, a juror had asked a forensic witness if it had been a quick death. No, was the reply; she was beaten many times around the head, probably with an iron pipe. It appeared that she regained consciousness and was then strangled; and then strangled again.
Adriano Araujo da Silva, 37, a Brazilian-born Guyanese who emigrated to France, is charged with Jeanette’s murder and has pleaded not guilty. He was arrested in 2008 when DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the crime. He confessed three times to police and judges before retracting his confession.
By January 2, 2001, the family knew Jeanette, a computer programmer who had been on a European holiday, was missing. Before her body was found, “it was nine days of weeping, of unbelievable torture”, Denise said.
On the other hand, no body led them to hope against hope, said Christine. “Until this happened we had some belief that maybe, maybe it wasn’t her . . . you hold on to every little bit of possibility.”
Even now, she said, family members still have dreams of Jeanette still alive, and feel new grief every time they return to the world of daylight. “Nothing compares to that feeling of having to wake up to the reality of it,” she said.
Their mother had feared she had cancer but refused to go to the doctor until the remains of her daughter, 28, could be brought home to Melbourne for a funeral. Because of the police investigation, this took months.
“And by the time she went to the doctor, the cancer had spread, so her risk of not surviving was very high,” said Denise, weeping. “So then we thought that we would lose our sister and our mother in the same year.”
The sisters’ parents, Kevin and Susan O’Keefe, felt too ill to make the trip to France.
Araujo da Silva watched impassively as the sisters struggled to tell their story.
A psychologist, Sylvia Lefort, told the court that she had found Araujo da Silva derogatory towards women, whom he viewed as objects, as well as lacking in self-control, compassion and guilt. But she said he was not a psychopath. She also reported that there was a disconnection between reality and his perception of reality, and that he changed his versions of stories to make them correspond to how he imagined himself. But he was not delusional, she said.
The judge-and-jury panel of nine was expected to retire to consider its verdict overnight. Five votes are required for a conviction, and if the verdict is guilty the panel will also decide upon a sentence. Araujo da Silva has said he would appeal a guilty verdict.
For the O’Keefe sisters, even a guilty verdict will not put the matter to rest. Jeanette’s movements in her last hours are still a mystery. Only her killer knows the full story.
At the end of her speech, Denise told the court that what the family most wanted was the truth. She shot a look at the accused and told him, with barely controlled fury, “Just the truth!”

First published in The Age.