State prosecutors formally handed down a 19-page indictment against confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik on Wednesday, charging him with two separate terrorist acts that killed a total of 77 persons last year. They admitted there is no legal precedent in Norway for the massive scope of Breivk’s crimes.
Breivik was presented with the indictment at the prison where he’s being held, before prosecutors Svein Holden and Inga Bejer Engh presented it at a nationally televised press conference at Oslo’s central police station.
The indictment summarizes the events of July 22, 2011, from the time Breivik parked a bomb-laden vehicle outside Norway’s government headquarters in downtown Oslo, to the time he was arrested by police on the island of Utøya around three hours later. It states how what happened in between left eight persons dead in Oslo and 69 dead on or around Utøya.
Of the 69 persons killed in the massacre at Utøya, prosecutors said 67 died from gunshot wounds while two others died from injuries in a fall or from drowning. Fully 34 of the victims were between the ages of 14 and 17 years.
The attacks also involved hundreds of attempted murders, caused what was described as “massive destruction,” threatened hundreds in the buildings around the blast and an estimated 75 persons on the streets at the site of the explosion. Breivik’s crimes also created “serious fear” within the Norwegian population and set off both “panic” and dødsangst (mortal dread).
As such, the acts of terrorism are considered far more severe than murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 21 years in Norway. “There is no basis for ordinary punishment,” Holden said. He and Engh admitted that “we have no rettspraksis (legal precedent) for this in Norway,” but said they will seek either a lengthy prison term or commitment to a psychiatric hospital, depending on whether Breivik is declared insane or able to be punished with imprisonment.
Holden and Engh said the attacks actually affected as many as 800 persons who could have been named in the already lengthy indictment. Instead, prosecutors opted to specifically name only those killed and injured or wounded because otherwise the case would have been even more unwieldy than it already is. As many as 600 to 800 persons may have needed to meet in court, and the Norwegian court system would have had trouble handling it. Holden said it would have also forced the trial to take much longer than the 10 weeks already allotted.
“We must acknowledge that this (limiting the amount of plaintiffs named) has been difficult,” he said. “There are many affected by this case who have not been named, and we understand that not being named may be difficult (for those involved).” Prosecutors stressed, though, that all involved are part of the case and that any compensation they may eligible for won’t hinge on whether they were named in the indictment.
Plans for how the trial will proceed will be presented next Friday. The trial is due to begin on April 16.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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