Handcuffed Breivik back in court

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Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik dressed for the occasion when he knew he’d be photographed and filmed just before his latest custody hearing began on Monday. Wearing a dark suit and tie, along with a pair of handcuffs, he posed willingly and then pulled out notes for some prepared remarks.

Confessed terrorist and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik met the gaze of a large press corps on Monday, and state broadcaster NRK carried his brief court appearance live on national TV until the judge ordered cameras to be turned off. Breivik was seated between his defense attorneys Vibeke Hein Bæra (left) and Geir Lippestad. NRK's text notes how the court allowed photos until legal proceedings began. PHOTO: NRK / Views and News

It was the last custody hearing to be held before Breivik’s trial begins on April 16, and the first time media were allowed to photograph the man who bombed Norway’s government headquarters and then gunned down 69 persons at a Labour Party summer camp on July 22. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) was among those who carried live coverage from the Oslo City Court (Oslo Tingrett) despite strong protests from many survivors and victims’ families.

They don’t want Breivik to gain any publicity for what he’s called an effort to halt Norway’s emergence as a multi-cultural society. Breivik has never shown any regret for his murderous rampage, which left a total of 77 persons dead, and legal experts told NRK he appeared well-prepared for his 20 minutes in court.

He immediately raised his arms upon walking into the courtroom, showing his handcuffs in what some observers interpreted as a right-wing extremist greeting. Police escorts quickly steered him to his seat between defense attorneys Vibeka Hein Bæra and Geir Lippestad.

After the judge ordered cameras to be turned off, Breivik was given one minute to speak. NRK reported how he said he did not recognize the validity of the Norwegian legal system and thus demanded to be released.  He once again admitted carrying out the actual events that led to his arrest, but claims he shouldn’t be punished, because he was simply acting on orders from the organization of which he claims to be a commander. His mission, he said, was to carry out attacks on “traitors” who are allowing an “Islamic colonization” of Norway, specifically, as he sees it, the Labour Party.

He was simply launching a “preventive attack” to “protect the native population” of Norway, he said. His remarks came as the country marked the annual observance of Samifolkets dag on February 6, honoring Norway’s indigenous Sami people. It wasn’t clear whether that was the “native population” Breivik had in mind.

Some legal experts speculated that Breivik’s remarks are part of a legal defense strategy to uphold a determination by court-appointed psychiatrists that Breivik is insane. If he was sane, they reasoned, he’d recognize Norway’s legal system, while his other remarks highlighted what Lippestad long has called Breivik’s altered state of reality. Breivik will be allowed as much as a week during his trial to explain how and why he carried out the bombing and massacre on the island of Utøya on July 22.

The only relevant portion of his prepared remarks at Monday’s custody hearing was the demand to be released, because custody hearings are only meant to address the terms of his incarceration. Lippestad said he supported his client’s request for release, “but that’s his (Lippestad’s) job,” legal analyst Gunhild Lærum told NRK.

Breivik will instead continue to be held for at least 10 more weeks. His custody hearing lasted less than half an hour.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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