Confusion over Breivik’s state of mind

Bookmark and Share

The Oslo City Court has demanded clarity from a state commission charged with certifying court-ordered psychiatric evaluations. Its review of a second evaluation of terror defendant Anders Behring Breivik is so vague that no one seems able to determine whether the commission has actually approved it.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported on Thursday that the court, in a highly unusual letter to Den rettsmedisinske kommisjon, has asked the commission to declare whether it thinks the evaluation that determined Breivik to be sane meets its standards. Some view the letter as a reprimand of the commission itself.

The commission earlier had asked for additional information from the two court-appointed psychiatrists who evaluated Breivik a second time and wrote the report that contradicted an earlier report. On Monday the commission forwarded their second evaluation to the court with no clear approval of it, writing that they merely took it under advisement.

The commission had approved an earlier report that determined Breivik to be insane and that he thus should be sentenced to psychiatric care instead of prison. Now some legal observers and commentators following Breivik’s trial think the commission is trying to undermine the second report without actually rejecting it.

Attorneys for both the prosecution and defense, faced with two conflicting reports on the mental health of the defendant, have also expressed frustration over the commission’s lack of clarity. A response is now due from the commission by June 1st. It’s up to the court to make a final ruling on Brevik’s state of mind, and what sort of sentence he will ultimately receive.

The trial entered its sixth week on Monday, with testimony from victims who survived the massacre Breivik carried out on the island of Utøya. Many of the victims are maimed for life, have undergone multiple operations and must live with the terror of the massacre on July 22.

While most of the testimony is poignant and difficult as victims recount how Breivik shot them, often several times, there have been moments of humor. One young man who lost his right eye told the court, for example, that the loss came in handy during the trial because he couldn’t see Breivik from the witness stand, since Breivik was sitting to his right in the courtroom. Another young man claimed he’d undergone “more operations than Michael Jackson,” but was getting along as well as he could.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

Please support our stories. Readers in Norway can use our donor account. Our international readers can click on our “Donate” button: