Terrorist’s childhood under probe

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Confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik has been eager to speak at length about his so-called “manifesto” but not about his childhood. His defense attorney, however, believes Breivik suffered from neglect and he’s calling for a probe of how Norway’s child protection agency handled concerns raised when Breivik was four years old.

At that time, Breivik’s parents had divorced and his mother had custody of both him and his half-sister. Breivik’s father was a diplomat in Norway’s foreign ministry and the family lived in London when Breivik was an infant.

Call for help
Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Thursday that Breivik’s mother asked for help from social workers after she’d returned to Norway, because she had sole responsibility for the two children and lacked a support network. Breivik’s father had moved to France.

Geir Lippestad, the lead defense attorney handling Breivik’s case after Breivik confessed to bombing Norway’s government headquarters and carrying out a massacre on the island of Utøya, told Aftenposten that information about Breivik’s childhood will be important during his trial. “For me, it’s important to find the reason why he became what he became,” Lippestad said.

He therefore is demanding more information into how Breivik’s mother’s call for help was handled when Breivik was four years old, because he believes it was not properly followed up by child protective services (known today as Barnevernet). A psychologist at the time reportedly recommended that the young Breivik was suffering from neglect and should be removed from his home.

Lippestad claims the psychologist’s reports and recommendation were not followed up, apart from some monitoring of conditions at the home. Breivik’s father, meanwhile, attempted to gain custody but was denied it in August 1983.

‘Legitimate’ request, but won’t affect outcome
According to Lippestad, Breivik himself has said he doesn’t want to talk about his childhood. He wrote in his manifesto simply that he had no negative experiences while growing up. He reportedly continued to remain silent on the matter during a new round of questioning on Wednesday. Breivik lived with his mother as an adult and reportedly has been estranged from his father, who still lives in France.

State prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch said it was legitimate for Lippestad to raise questions about his client’s childhood, but Busch didn’t think it would have much bearing on the sentence Breivik will ultimately receive when his trial concludes next year. Busch said it will be “the extent and the brutality” of his attacks that will weigh most heavily, along with the way they were carried out. Breivik’s bombing and massacre left 77 persons dead and 39 seriously wounded, destroyed portions of the government complex in downtown Oslo and traumatized hundreds of youth who tried to escape his rampage.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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