`Anders Behring Breivik failed to change Norway`

The Norwegian PM said Anders Behring Breivik had failed in his declared goal of destroying Norway`s commitment to being a multicultural society.

Updated: Jul 23, 2012, 00:33 AM IST

Oslo: Norway on Sunday paused to commemorate the 77 victims of a bomb and gun massacre that shocked the peaceful nation one year ago, a tragedy that the Prime Minister said had brought Norwegians together in defence of democracy and tolerance.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old far-right fanatic, has admitted to the July 22, 2011, attacks: a bombing of the government district in Oslo, killing eight, and a shooting rampage that left 69 dead at the left-wing Labor Party`s youth camp on Utoya island.

In a wreath-laying ceremony at the bomb site, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Breivik had failed in his declared goal of destroying Norway`s commitment to being an inclusive, multicultural society.

"The bomb and the gun shots were meant to change Norway," Stoltenberg told a sombre crowd of a few hundred people at the ceremony. "The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won."

Tarps were still covering the windows of bomb-damaged buildings on the plaza, and large cement road blocks stop all but pedestrian traffic.

Mounted police and officers with bomb-sniffing dogs were on the site, but the security was not overbearing, as if to show that Norway was still an open society.

The police investigation showed Breivik set off a fertilizer bomb that tore the facade of the high-rise that housed the government`s headquarters, and drove toward Utoya unhindered as chaos reigned in the capital.

Arriving on Utoya disguised as a police officer and armed with a handgun and assault rifle, he unleashed a shooting massacre that sent panicked teenagers fleeing into a chilly lake or hiding behind rocks to save their lives. More than half of the victims were teenagers — the youngest had turned 14 five days earlier.

Survivors were gathering for a private ceremony on the island on Sunday, while Norway`s royal family and government leaders attended a church service in Oslo, where a memorial concert was planned later in the day.

During the 10-week trial that ended in June, Breivik admitted to the attacks, but declined criminal guilt out of principle, saying the victims were traitors for embracing immigration and making Norway a multicultural society.

Prosecutors said Breivik was psychotic and should be sent to compulsory psychiatric care while Breivik`s defence lawyers argued that he was sane. The Oslo district court is set to deliver its ruling on August 24.