Norway Killer declared insane
December 02, 2011
A psychiatric evaluation has found that confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik, the man who bombed and shot 77 people to death in Norway in July, was clinically insane at the time of the attacks, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The finding could pave the way for psychiatric treatment for the right-wing, anti-Muslim militant instead of a prison sentence, according to Norwegian law.
On July 22, Breivik detonated a massive car bomb outside government offices in Oslo, the Norwegian capital, and then went on a shooting rampage on a nearby island where a political summer camp was being held. Witnesses say he methodically hunted down dozens of young people and shot them before surrendering without resistance when police finally showed up.
It was Norway's worst-ever peacetime massacre.
In a manifesto running to hundreds of pages, Breivik said his goal was to spark a revolution to reclaim Europe for Christianity and purge the continent of Muslims. He referred to himself as a crusading "knight" and accused "indigenous Europeans" of committing "cultural suicide" by allowing Muslims to settle in Christian lands.
If the court accepts the conclusion that Breivik was deranged when he carried out the attacks, then his trial would be suspended and he would be transferred from jail to a mental hospital, Norwegian media reported. He could then spend the rest of his life in psychiatric care, his freedom curtailed but not because of a prison sentence.
The 243-page report will be reviewed by a panel from the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine. Breivik, 32, is due to stand trial on 16 April for a hearing scheduled to last around 10 weeks.
It is unclear if the conclusions of the report - if approved by the panel - will prevent the trial from going ahead in its current form.
Norwegians have reacted with surprise and disbelief at the report stating that Breivik is mentally unfit to stand trial.
Hours before the announcement, radio news reports were still saying that such a verdict would be highly unlikely.
The shock is heightened by the media portrayal of Breivik as carefully planning his actions as a functioning member of society. He does not match the public's idea of a paranoid schizophrenic.
Some see the verdict as Norwegian society's attempt to marginalise and silence extreme right-wing opinions. Clearly this would harm open debate concerning these ideas.
However Norwegian courts tend to abide by forensic reports, so this verdict drastically reduces the likelihood that Breivik will stand trial as planned.
It will almost certainly mean that Breivik is detained into psychiatric care rather than receiving a lengthy jail term.
Before the report was made public, a lawyer for the victims said it did not matter what the conclusion was as long as Breivik was not allowed to go free.