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Monday, 25 July 2011

Amid Mourning, Norway Prepares for Court Appearance by Suspect in Attacks

  OSLO — After a day of remembrance and self-examination for Norway, a small country shaken by the massacre of at least 93 of its people by one of its own, the nation braced on Monday for the first court appearance for the 32-year-old man who says he carried out the twin attacks that killed them.

Unexpectedly, the hunt for evidence in Norway’s worst atrocity since World War II also spread to southern France, where, The Associated Press reported, French gendarmes searched the house of his father, Jens Breivik, who was said earlier to have lost contact with his son many years ago. It was not clear what the officers were looking for or what they had found.
Anders Behring Breivik, 32, the only suspect arrested, admits to the shootings on Friday on the island of Utoya and the fatal bombing of government offices in Oslo on the same day, his lawyer, Geir Lippestad, has told Norwegian news media. But he rejects “criminal responsibility.” Mr. Lippestad said that Mr. Breivik insists that he acted alone, and alone wrote a mammoth manifesto — rambling from a hostile historical look at Islam to recipes (and price lists) for bomb manufacture to his family’s pressure on him to date.
“He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,” the lawyer said. “He wanted a change in society and, from his perspective, he needed to force through a revolution. He wished to attack society and the structure of society.”
According to his lawyer, Mr. Breivik has requested to appear in some kind of a uniform during the hearing — the exact kind was not known — apparently seeking a global platform for his right-wing views.
Mr. Breivik also clearly wants to leave a legacy and thinks he will create some kind of mass following, said Tore Bjorgo, one of Norway’s most respected scholars of right-wing extremism. “He had this strange idea that he will provoke a mass following, despite the violence, which is why I put it in a Christian frame,” said Mr. Bjorgo, a professor at the Norwegian Police University College.
But, the A.P. reported, the prosecution wants the hearing to be closed to the public and the media and will ask for Mr. Breivik to be held in pretrial custody for eight weeks — twice the usual span of pretrial detention. It will be up to the court to decide how to proceed, according to Oslo District Court spokeswoman Irene Ramm.
On Sunday, the royal family and average citizens alike, some traveling long distances, came to a memorial service for the dead in the Oslo Cathedral. Long lines of people of all ages and colors waited patiently and quietly, some of them crying, to lay flowers or light candles at the spreading blanket of bouquets in front of the cathedral. Someone propped up a radio on a post so those waiting could listen to the service inside. On Monday, many people gathered quietly, some in tears, in advance of a minute of silence at noon.
At the same time, the Norwegian police and security services faced numerous questions about their slow response to the reports of shooting on the island of Utoya, where the country’s governing Labor Party was holding its annual political summer camp, considered Norway’s nursery school for future leaders. The police took an hour to arrive on the island after the first reports, and officials said that it was hard to find boats and that their helicopters were only capable of surveillance, not of shooting down the killer.
Mr. Breivik, who has cooperated with the police, had asked for an open hearing in the City Court of Oslo on Monday morning, when the police will seek to detain him on suspicion of terrorism before the prosecution brings formal charges.
Some speculated that Mr. Breivik is seeking another public platform for his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas, which center around the conservation of cultural and Christian values in the face of what he sees as a continuing effort by Islam to conquer Europe since the Ottomans were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683. His manifesto, called “2083 — A European Declaration of Independence,” seemed intended to reflect the 400th anniversary of the siege.
Mr. Breivik was said by analysts to have been an occasional commenter on a blog, Gates of Vienna, which is topped by these words: “At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war.”


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