In a specially-constructed 200-seat court in Oslo, Norway, the opening session of Anders Behring Breivik’s trial started today as expected, with the 33-year-old Breivik flashing a closed-fist salute to the court and then stating “I don’t recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism.”
Eight people were killed in Breivik’s July 22, 2011 bombing of Oslo’s government district and 69 others were slain in his shooting massacre at the Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya Island outside the capital. He has said the attacks were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims.
“I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt,” he told the court, insisting he had acted in self-defense. Norway does have a legal principle of preventive self-defense, but according to Jarl Borgvin Doerre, a legal expert who has written a book on the concept, this case can in no way be considered preventive self-defense.
As guilt is not in question, the key issue to be resolved during the 10-week trial is the state of Breivik’s mental health, which will decide whether he is sent to prison or into psychiatric care. Anxious to prove he is not insane, Breivik plans to call right-wing extremists and radical Islamists to testify during the trial, to show that others also share his view of clashing civilizations.
If deemed mentally competent, Breivik would face a maximum prison sentence of 21 years or an alternate custody arrangement under which the sentence is prolonged for as long as an inmate is deemed a danger to society.