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.

Breaking down the walls

The revelations of child abuse and cover-ups within the Irish Catholic Church have shocked the faithful, writes Karen Kissane from Dublin.

MARIE COLLINS was 13 and in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children when she was abused. It was the hospital chaplain, a Catholic priest. He went to jail for it, many years later, like so many of his colleagues in Ireland, but only after decades of misery for Collins.
“I never connected his abuse with the church,” she says. “I thought it was somehow my fault and that I was a bad person who had brought it on myself. I had years of depression and agoraphobia that included nine admissions to psychiatric wards.”
As a young adult, anxious that other children not be hurt as she had, she told a priest in her parish. “He told me it was probably my fault, that I must have led the poor man on, but that I was forgiven and I could go away and forget about it.”
That priest’s sentence of guilt outweighed any promise of forgiveness. Collins did go away, into more years of silence and depression. The misery did not lift until after her attacker, Father Paul McGennis, was jailed in 1997 over offences involving her and another child he abused 18 years after Collins. He was later convicted of having raped a third girl, 24 years after he attacked Collins.
She has no doubt the validation given to her by those court cases, and the later findings of four major inquiries into child abuse, helped her to recover. She says of the opening up of Ireland’s cesspit of secrets: “I think it’s helped everybody, really, except the Catholic Church … It’s certainly worked for survivors. Even as late as the 1990s, it was difficult for any survivor to be heard or believed in any way. That’s not the case any more.”
Australia’s royal commission into child sex abuse, announced last week by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will look at the Catholic Church and other institutions. In Ireland, the church has been the focus of inquiries because its traditional reach there incorporated almost all schools, hospitals, orphanages, charities and welfare organisations.
And it is the church hierarchy that has time and again been found guilty of covering up scandals and protecting perpetrators in its ranks.
“The revelation that had the biggest impact was not that the church had abusers,” Collins says. “It was news of the systemic cover-ups that angered people.”
In her case, the bishop to whom she took her story told her the priest concerned had no complaints against him: “But they had known 30 years earlier he was an abuser. A few months after he abused me, the church found out he was doing it. He used to take indecent pictures of the children and he sent them to the UK for processing, and Kodak … picked out a roll and sent them to police here. The police commissioner did not investigate, but brought the pictures to the archbishop. They took him out of the hospital and put him in a parish.”
Ireland’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, a practising Catholic, was so outraged by stories such as this that following a damning report last year, he launched an attack on the Vatican that made world headlines.
The Cloyne inquiry found a 1997 letter from the Vatican criticising a new policy by the Irish church hierarchy of reporting all offenders to police. The Cloyne report documented, as had three other inquiries before it, patterns of clerical deceit.
Breaking with decades of subservience to the church by Irish politicians of all stripes, Kenny stood up in Ireland’s parliament and attacked Rome.
He said the report exposed an attempt “to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic – as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism … the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican. The rape and torture of children was downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation”.
Rome removed its ambassador to Ireland, and Dublin closed its embassy to the Vatican. Ireland has since reinforced its determination to act on secular principles of child protection by making it mandatory to report sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, ordinary Catholics aghast at the scandals have voted with their feet. While national attendance at weekly mass is about 45 per cent, in Dublin the figure is less than 20 per cent – both a huge drop from the 90 per cent attendance of 30 years ago.
Dublin’s archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, said in February: “The fact thousands of children were abused within the church … is a scar the church will bear for generations. There is no way in which what happened can be consigned out of the way into the archives.”
Of the Murphy report into the misdeeds of the Dublin archdiocese before his time, he said: “I offer to each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them … the Archdiocese of Dublin failed to recognise the theft of childhood.”
The church has set up new structures to deal with abuse. Andrew Fagan, director of child safeguarding for the Dublin archdiocese, says the new system reports all complaints to police immediately: “Civil law and civil procedure takes precedence.”
Church volunteers are now trained to be abuse-aware and to develop practices that involve careful supervision of children “to ensure our churches are as safe as they can possibly be. And people are carrying that information into other situations – it is making our society safer”.
Despite the positive developments, Marie Collins feels she can no longer be part of the church. She still believes in God and has tried to regain her faith in the institution, but each time has found herself slamming into what she believes is a wall of resistance to change on child abuse.
In February, she went to Rome for a Vatican seminar on child abuse for bishops around the world. There she met a church official who gave her hope because he was passionate about the need to tackle the problem. Soon afterwards, he was demoted.

First published in The Sydney Sun-Herald.

Child witness to family shooting wakes from coma

LONDON< THE seven-year-old girl who was shot and beaten during an attack in which her parents were killed has regained consciousness in a French hospital with relatives at her side, but has not yet been questioned by police. Zainab al-Hilli is viewed by police as the “key witness” to the shootings last Wednesday in which her mother, father and grandmother and a passing cyclist were gunned down at a tourist spot in the French Alps near Lake Annecy. The chief prosecutor leading the inquiry, Eric Maillaud, said: “She has been in a coma and is under sedatives and cannot be questioned for now. The members of her family who came are by her side. Without doubt, it is their responsibility to inform her of the death of her family. “We hope that the age of seven is the age of reason and that she will be able to provide descriptions about the number of people, whether men or women, the colour of their clothes, and who could have committed this.” Zainab has a fractured skull from a suspected pistol-whipping as well as a gunshot wound to the shoulder. She has been under armed guard in intensive care in hospital at Grenoble and has undergone surgery. Mr Maillaud described her survival as a miracle. She will be questioned by police who specialise in child witnesses. Her sister Zeena, four, who was found cowering under her mother’s legs in the back of the family car eight hours after the bodies were discovered, has flown back to Britain accompanied by relatives, police and a social worker. Mr Maillaud said Zeena had identified family members and described the “fury” and “terror” of the attack to French police. He said she had heard shots and cries but was unable to advance the inquiry. “The most important thing is to get her back to her family.” Last Wednesday, Iraqi-born Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal, her mother Suhaila al-Allaf and passing cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, were gunned down by assassins who put two bullets into each person’s head, leading to speculation of a professional hit. A builder working at a house near where the family was killed said he saw their car pass but did not hear any shots fired. Laurent Fillion-Robin told The Times: “You do hear shooting from the hunters sometimes, but I didn’t hear anything that afternoon. Perhaps [the killers] had a silencer.” Meanwhile, a childhood friend of the Hilli brothers has revealed a letter that victim Saad al-Hilli wrote in which he savaged his older brother Zaid, 53, a month after the death of their father, and hinted at a dispute over inheritance. He wrote: “Zaid and I do not communicate any more as he is another control freak and tried a lot of underhanded things even when my father was alive. He tried to take control of father’s assets.” Police are also investigating Saad al-Hilli’s work as an aeronautical design engineer for Surrey Satellite Technology, a company which helped to develop Britain’s first military surveillance satellite. A colleague, Derek Reed, said he did not think his job would have put Mr Hilli at risk.First published in The Age.

French police hunt for at least two gunmen after Alps murders

LONDON: Two or more killers were last night being hunted over the murders of a family in the French Alps, as police continued to probe the dead father’s relationship with a brother and his work with a defence-satellite technology company.
While French authorities continued to insist they could not say if the killings had been the result of a professional hit, they confirmed each murder victim had received at least three bullets, including two shots to the head, a technique seen as a signature of assassination.
One investigator said: “We know the number of weapons that were used and the kinds that were used. Examination of the grooves on the cartridges and of the system for firing the bullet shows there was more than one killer.”
The seven-year-old daughter of the family, Zainab, was reported to be out of danger following operations to repair a fractured skull. Police said it was not yet known how she had been bludgeoned. There has been speculation she was pistol-whipped. Eric Maillaud, the chief prosecutor overseeing the investigation, said of speculation that Zainab might have been tortured to force her parents to reveal something, said, “This is not the main hypothesis.”
Last Wednesday, British-based aeronautics engineer Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Iqbal, 47, their two daughters and a 77-year-old woman thought to be Iqbal’s mother were on holidays in the Alps near Lake Annecy when they were attacked by gunmen.
A cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, is believed to have been passing on the same road but apparently became a witness and was also murdered. He took seven bullets.
The younger daughter, four-year-old Zeena, was found crouching under her mother’s legs eight hours after the bodies were discovered in a BMW near the village of Chevaline.
The Mail on Sunday reported that Mr al-Hilli was working on a secret contract for one of Europe’s biggest defence companies, Surrey Satellites Technology. The newspaper said he was part of a team involved in an undisclosed project linked to European Aeronautic Defence and Space, a company that has contracts with Russia, China and the Foreign Office. Its clients include NASA, the European Space Agency and the British Ministry of Defence contractor Thales.
Claude Moniquet, the director of the Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre, said, “Mr al-Hilli’s company was also a renowned leader in satellite mapping, and if it was secretly doing this in countries which would not welcome such an intrusion, then we have a possible motive.” He also suggested Middle-Eastern groups might have pressured the Iraqi-born Mr al-Hilli for access to technology and killed him for refusing.
Meanwhile Mr al-Hilli’s brother Zaid, who had previously issued a legal caveat to delay the settling of his father’s will, denied a family feud. A cousin who lives in Australia, Ali al-Hilli, told London’s Telegraph that Zaid was in tears when he spoke to him on the telephone after the killings. “He kept saying, ‘Why? Why? Why? How did this happen? … He was clearly devastated. He wasn’t coping.” Ali al-Hilli said he knew of no disagreement over money. He said Zaid al-Hilli was innocent and intended to care for the girls.
Police continued a detailed search of the al-Hillis’ home in Claygate, Surrey, while French police widened their search to Italy and Switzerland, with Mr Maillaud saying it was possible the killers had fled across borders that were only 90 minutes away.
Mr Maillaud said Zeena would soon re-join relatives who had travelled to France to take her home. Zainab, a “key witness”, was still in hospital in an induced coma, he said.
A former head of Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad, John O’Connor, told The Independent he believed the murders were probably the result of a state-sponsored assassination.

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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.

Girl’s body found at grandmother’s house


HER name and face have been on Britain’s television screens for a week as her family begged for help in finding missing schoolgirl Tia Sharp, 12.
Now the partner of the girl’s grandmother has been charged with killing her after her body was found in her grandmother’s house on a council estate in Croydon, south London.
Stuart Hazell, 37, was found hiding under a log on a common and will appear in court today.
Tia’s grandmother, Christine Sharp, 46, was also arrested on suspicion of murder and her neighbour, Paul Meehan, 39, was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. They have both been released on bail.
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard, which apparently botched the investigation by failing to find Tia’s body sooner despite three searches of her grandmother’s house, has apologised to Tia’s mother for the delays.
A spokesman said the searches included one that was meant to have been a full one last Sunday week, and an inspection by a sniffer dog on Wednesday, and that they should have been more thorough.
“We have apologised to Tia’s mother that our procedures did not lead to the discovery of the body on this search,” the spokesman said. He added that there would be a review of processes “to ensure such a failing is not repeated”.
The body was not found until Friday, when police decided a more intensive fourth sweep of the house was necessary.
Police now want to establish how long the body had been there.
Hazell had said he was the last person to see Tia before she was reported missing on Friday, August 3, which led to a hunt involving nearly 100 officers, who scoured woodland near the house and examined 800 hours of CCTV footage.
Tia was in Hazell’s care when she went missing and he told police she had left the house to buy a pair of thongs and had little money and no transport card or mobile phone.
Hazell had previously dated Tia’s mother, Natalie Sharp, 30.
Before his arrest, he told a television interviewer: “Did I do anything to Tia? No I bloody didn’t. I’d never think of that. I loved her to bits, she’s like my own daughter. She’s got a lovely home. I can’t work out what’s going on.
“She’s a happy-go-lucky golden angel, she’s perfect . . . Just come home, babe, come and eat your dinner.”
Hazell said people were “pointing the finger” at him because he had been the last person to see her but that a neighbour told police he saw Tia leave the house alone and had even been able to describe “the pattern on her top”.
Her grandmother had earlier told reporters: “My only message to Tia is that I love her. She is my life.”First published in The Age.

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