‘Classic rhetoric’ as Breivik testifies

Several lawyers expressed surprise that an Oslo City Court judge allowed mass murder and terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik to speak for as long as he did, when he started five days of testimony on Tuesday. Others called his testimony “classic rhetoric” although Breivik himself claimed he’d toned it down “out of consideration for the survivors and victims” of his deadly attacks last summer.

Anders Behring Breivik continues to defend his attacks on July 22, calling them "a necessity." PHOTO: NRK pool screen grab/Views and News

Breivik, like all other criminal defendants in Norway, is entitled to defend himself and explain his criminal actions. In Breivik’s case, that includes murdering 77 persons in the space of just over three hours on July 22 last year. The lead judge handling his trial let him speak for nearly 70 minutes, but she did interrupt him on several occasions, not least after a lawyer for many survivors objected to the nature of Breivik’s remarks. His testimony was also delayed, because of the need Tuesday morning to replace one of the lay judges in his case.

The sheer scope of Breivik’s attacks last July has led to the largest trial in Norwegian history and attracted broad media coverage, with steady transcriptions coming from the courtroom when televised coverage is prohibited. The national and international attention is a result not just of the violence involved, but because Breivik has claimed all along that he carried out his attacks in an effort to stop the Norwegian government from allowing what he claims is a looming immigrant and Muslim takeover of the country. He therefore resorted to terrorism, blaming the government and, specifically, the Labour Party for promoting and allowing immigration over the years. He targeted the government, by bombing its headquarters in downtown Oslo, and a Labour Party youth summer camp, in an effort to wipe out the next generation of Labour leaders.

Speaking often in the collective “we,” a reference to alleged supporters and other right-wing extremists, Breivik compared his battle against what he calls “multiculturalism” to the conflict between Tibet and China. “There’s no difference between the fight by the people of Tibet and us, who are fighting for self-rule and cultural protection,” Breivik said in a transcript published by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

At one point Tuesday morning, Breivik turned to gaze at some of the survivors and families of the victims of his attacks who are following his trial from behind a glass window in the Oslo courtroom. He testified that he realizes he created enormous suffering, but he still has shown no sign of regret. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/Views and News

Breivik presented himself as a militant nationalist for what he calls a Norwegian and European “resistance movement.” Under questioning from prosecutors Tuesday afternoon, he said he’d been influenced by other “like-minded, militant nationalists” who believe use of violence is legitimate. He was reluctant, however, to identify them.

Several right-wing extremist organizations have tried to distance themselves from Breivik, although he suggests many of their members think the same way he does and their anti-Muslim and anti-immigration rhetoric is similar to his own. S0me extremists have seemed eager to brand Breivik as insane, since his mass murder isn’t likely to enhance recruitment and doesn’t reflect well on what he considers their collective cause.

Breivik’s testimony suggests that he simply decided to act on the rhetoric of right-wing extremist ideology. After claiming that multicultural journalists and academics are working together to destroy the Norwegian identity, he added that “multiculturalists are so arrogant that they won’t go into dialogue with us.” He thus felt his freedom of expression was under attack, so he attacked himself. Breivik called the events of July 22 and the recent murders of immigrants in Malmö, Sweden “preventive strikes” necessary to fend off multiculturalism. He said he hadn’t expected to survive July 22 himself, and that he realizes he has caused enormous suffering.

“I acted out of necessity on behalf of my people, my culture, my country,” he said, before demanding to be released from custody. He also claimed, though, that “prison doesn’t scare me.” He wants to be deemed sane, not insane, knowing that will result in a lengthy prison term.

Breivik continued on Tuesday to appear calm and controlled, even polite, as he did when his trial began Monday. He also admitted that he’d previously appeared “pompous,” and has himself to blame for an initial determination from court-appointed psychiatrists that he is insane. His conduct throughout the trial will play a key role in the final determination of his mental state when it wraps up in June.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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  • adruaq

    It is important that this guy be found insane, otherwise it will validate his acts as serious in the eyes of fanatics.

  • WatchfulObserver

    How is that justice? That’s revenge. That’s saying “killing others is wrong, unless we say it’s okay in some cases.” You do realise most of todays western public read tabloids, watch reality television and are amused by the going on’s of celebrities? Some are religious nuts, some are ignorant and some are drug addled irresponsible humans. Meanwhile politicians are corrupt, ignore the people and do whatever they can to make a police state. So forgive me if I don’t put any faith in a justice system to bring such a powerful judgement on anyone. Look at today’s society and ask yourself if it is fit enough to sentence someone to death, even in “open-shut” cases like this.

    • NorwayExpat123

      You lose the right to call yourself a human being when you take away a 14 year old’s right not to bleed to death on a cold wet rock. If you do it to 77 people, and show absolutely no remorse, and their is no doubt you did it, then you should be squashed like the maggot you are, not given a suit, a handshake, and 70 minutes to argue your opinions. Simple as that. Let’s hear the victims’ opinions on all this, oh wait, they never get to have an opinion on anything ever again because of this monster.

    • charlie468

      A death sentence is not nearly “enough” but it is a good start.

  • aquacalc

    Thus, satisfy vengeance and perhaps make him a martyr for anyone sufficiently sympathetic to his argument, regardless how they might mis-interpret it?

    No, I think the Norwegian system is more humane and, as I understand it, the max sentence can be extended into an effective life-sentence if he then is deemed to be continued a danger to society.

  • NorwayExpat123

    I read that all the judges, and even some of the lawyers representing the victims’ families, shook ABB’s hand as the trial was beginning. I’m all for civility, but you would have to cut my hand off to get it anywhere near his.

    A nice suit, his smug face plastered all over every newspaper in the world (including this one) – as if in an attempt to torment the victims’ families further – and an hour in the global spotlight to spew his diatribe to the whole world. I knew Norway rewarded mediocrity, but I didn’t know to what extent they would reward mass murder.