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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Terror survivors feel let down

Many of those who survived confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik’s bomb and massacre last summer have been telling Norwegian media that they feel let down by the state’s indictment against Breivik. Some fear he may not be held responsible for his murderous attacks, while others feel left out by not being actually named in the 19-page historic legal document.

Spontaneous flower memorials to the victims and survivors sprouted up all over Norway after last summer's terrorist attacks. Now many survivors and victims' families feel let down or overlooked by the indictment against confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. PHOTO: Views and News

Norwegian newspapers and broadcast outlets have been filled with stories about reaction to the indictment that was formally presented on Wednesday. While Breivik himself has said he was “disappointed” by it, because he claims he’s sane and acted rationally on July 22, many of the survivors and families of his victims seem to strangely feel the same.

They want him locked up for life and Breivik himself wants a jail term as well, while prosecutors say they will instead ask the court to commit him to a psychiatric institution. State authorities point to an initial evaluation by court-appointed psychiatrists that Breivik is insane and therefore can neither be held responsible for his acts nor sentenced to jail. They have stated they will await the conclusions of a second team of psychiatrists currently observing Breivik in the prison where he’s behind held, but the state still seems to be leaning towards obtaining an insanity verdict, also because of the doubt they claim will arise if the new psychiatrists declare Breivik sane and accountable.

This photo is among several taken at the Labour Party's youth summer camp on Utøya the day before the massacre, and published in Labour's online photo album. Campers assembled to listen to a speech by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. The photo shows the scope of those who became massacre victims and survivors on July 22, and who now seek justice. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet

Meanwhile, the presentation of the indictment stirred memories of the horrors of July 22, and feelings of being overlooked. Several persons who survived the bombing of government headquarters and the massacre on the island where Breivik shot persons at the Labour Party’s youth summer camp want public acknowledgment that they’re victims, too, and they want justice.

Many of those who were not physically injured on Utøya but badly traumatized by witnessing Breivik’s massacre , seeing friends be shot and fleeing for their lives wanted to be named in the indictment as being among Breivik’s victims. It’s widely viewed they were all victims of attempted murder, but under Norway’s legal system, each individual case would need to be evaluated for as many as 800 persons, meaning the case against Breivik would go on for years.

While the head of a victims’ support group said he understood the practicalities involved in trying to streamline the massive case, others weren’t so understanding. “It’s been a tough day,” Randi Johansen Perreau, the mother of two victims of the massacre on the island of Utøya, told newspaper Dagsavisen. One of her sons was killed, while the other survived after seeing his brother shot and then being shot at himself while fleeing.

“The indictment is a betrayal of the many he (Breivik) tried to kill,” Perreau said. “It leaves an impression that society isn’t taking seriously that (those who dodged Breivik’s bullets) were also victims of a criminal act.”

Terje Solvik, who represents a newly formed group of 81 survivors living in Akershus County, also claimed the indictment was “quite thin” in terms of recognizing those who were victims of attempted murder. Prosecutors, Solvik told Dagsavisen, “could at least have mentioned that survivors were in grave danger and that it was coincidental who was killed and who wasn’t.”

Breivik ‘would do it again’
The indictment revealed that 56 of Breivik’s 69 victims on Utøya were shot in the head. Many suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Breivik moved over the entire island and targeted anyone he saw, prosecutors wrote.

“There was panic and mortal dread among children, youth and adults during the shooting, exacerbated by the limited opportunities to flee or hide,” stated prosecutors in the indictment.

Breivik’s defense attorney, Geir Lippestad, said that in addition to being disappointed that prosecutors believe he was insane, his client “wanted to make it very clear” that he believes he was sane and rational and still doesn’t regret his actions, which he has repeatedly said were motivated by his attempt to halt Norway’s development as a multi-cultural society. He wants Norway to be ethnically Caucasian and Christian, and especially opposes immigration of Muslims.

“He would do the same again if he could choose,” Lippestad told NRK on national TV Wednesday night. “He’s very clear about that.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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