Terrorist’s father can’t forgive son

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The estranged father of confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he can’t understand what his son has done, nor can he forgive him. But he’d like to visit him, six years after they last spoke.

Jens Breivik, a career diplomat and father of the man who killed 77 persons in Norway last summer, appearing on NRK's Brennpunkt program Wednesday night. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

Jens Breivik, a retired diplomat, spoke on camera to NRK’s Brennpunkt program, as did another man who acted as the younger Breivik’s stepfather, retired pilot Tore Tollefsen. Breivik separated from his wife and infant son when the boy was just a year old and didn’t see him again until he was six. Tollefsen had a lengthy relationship with Breivik’s mother several years later and first met the youngster who became Norway’s worst mass murderer when he was 12.

The elder Breivik admitted that “there was no real father-son relationship” between the two of them. He petitioned at one point to gain custody of the boy, when he’d learned that his mother was having difficulty caring for him, “but at that time, it was almost impossible for a father to get custody after a divorce.”

When Breivik returned to Norway from overseas postings in 1990, he started seeing his son again. “He basically came home to me to eat, sleep and relax,” the former diplomat told NRK. “He behaved more or less like other boys of his age. He was a bit difficult and not very talkative. He wasn’t very interested in talking with me about things in his life.”

Contact ended in 1995, except for a phone conversation in 2005. The elder Breivik told NRK he now regrets that he didn’t make more of an effort to get to know his son. “He is my son, but on the other hand, he’s a stranger,” Breivik told NRK. “It’s no good feeling.”

Tore Tollefsen said he acted as a "reserve father" for Anders Behring Breivik in the absence of Breivik's own father. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

Tollefsen said he acted like a “reserve father” for the young Breivik when his own father “failed to support him,” and Tollefsen said he even tried to teach him to drive. He described Breivik as a “handsome young gentleman” and “polite.” He was no “tough guy,” but changed as he grew up.

Breivik was harshly critical of both his father and stepfather in the so-called manifesto he released just prior to the attacks. Tollefsen claims he has no idea why Breivik would write bad things about him, saying he thought they had a good relationship. Now Tollefsen feels sorry for Breivik.

“I know him as a soft person, completely the opposite of what he became,” Tollefsen said.

Breivik’s father said he can understand why many people hate his son. “The worst thing is to think of how he killed so many innocent people,” he told NRK. He added that it was “in shock and fury” that he told reporters right after the attacks that he thought his son should have killed himself instead. He regrets that statement now, thinks his son is sick and would like see him, but he said he can’t forgive him.

Geir Lippestad, defense attorney for the young Breivik, said he doesn’t think his client will like the fact that his father and stepfather spoke publicly about him to Norway’s state broadcaster. “But I don’t think he’ll be surprised,” Lippestad said.

Psychiatrists continue to argue over two court-appointed colleagues’ declaration that Breivik is insane. His trial is due to begin in April, and it remains unclear whether he’ll be sentenced to prison or committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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