Court in shock as Norway gunman describes massacre
Norwegians who lost loved ones on Utoya island gasped and sobbed on Friday as far-right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik described in harrowing detail how he gunned down teenagers as they fled in panic or froze before him.
Oslo: Norwegians who lost loved ones on Utoya island gasped and sobbed on Friday as far-right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik described in harrowing detail how he gunned down teenagers as they fled in panic or froze before him, paralyzed with fear.
Survivors and victims` relatives hugged, cried and shook, trying to comfort each other during testimony that completed the first week of Breivik`s trial for a bombing-and-shooting rampage that left 77 people dead on July 22.
"I`m going back to my hometown tonight ... my husband, he`s going to drive me out to the sea, and I`m going to take a walk there and I`m going to scream my head off," said Christin Bjelland, a spokeswoman for victims` support group.
Breivik`s defense lawyers had warned the bereaved that his testimony about the Utoya massacre, where 69 people were killed, would be difficult to hear. Still, the shock was palpable in the 200-seat courtroom as the self-styled crusader rolled out his gruesome account, without any sign of emotion.
A man who lost his son on the island youth camp closed his eyes hard, squeezing them shut. Another man to his left put a comforting hand to his shoulder. A woman to his right clutched onto him, resting her forehead against his arm.
Tore Sinding Bekkedal, a 24-year-old who survived the Utoya massacre, left the courtroom during Breivik`s testimony. When reporters approached him, he said he needed a break.
"I could not care less about what he says or the way he says it," Bekkedal said. "I do not care about him as a person."
Breivik has confessed to setting off a bomb in Oslo`s government district, killing eight people, and then opening fire at the annual summer camp of the governing Labor Party`s youth wing. He rejects criminal guilt, saying the victims had betrayed Norway by embracing immigration.
Looking tense but focused, Breivik spoke calmly about the shooting rampage, beginning with the moment he took a small ferry to Utoya, an island in a lake outside Oslo. He was disguised as a policeman, carrying a rifle and a handgun. He also brought drinking water because he knew he would get a dry throat from the stress of killing people.
Breivik`s first two victims were Monica Boesei, a camp organizer, and off-duty police officer Trond Berntsen, a security guard.
"My whole body tried to revolt when I took the weapon in my hand. There were 100 voices in may head saying `Don`t do it, don`t do it,`" Breivik said.
Nonetheless, he pointed his gun at Berntsen`s head and pulled the trigger. He shot Boesei as she tried run away. Then as they lay on the ground, he shot them both twice in the head.
Breivik said the first shots pushed him into a "fight-and-flight" mode that made it easier to continue the killing spree.
He couldn`t remember large chunks of the approximately 90 minutes he spent on the island before surrendering to police commandos. Still, he recalled some of the shootings in great detail, including inside a cafe where he mowed down young victims as they pleaded for their lives.
Some teenagers were frozen in panic, unable to move even when Breivik ran out of ammunition. He changed clips. They didn`t move. He shot them in the head.
They cannot run. They stand totally still. This is something they never show on TV," Breivik said. "It was very strange."
The main goal of the trial, now in its fifth day, is to figure out whether Breivik was sane or insane — two official reports have come to opposite conclusions on that point.
"He`s completely emotionless," said Paal Groendal, a psychologist who watched Friday`s hearing but was not among those who examined Breivik.
"He remembers details about smashed windows, but he doesn`t remember if it was boy or girl I shot there. How many did I shoot there? ... It seems like he doesn`t remember people. To him they are details," Groendal said.
Breivik continued his rampage around the island, luring youth from their hiding places by telling them he was a police officer who was there to protect them. When they came out, he gunned them down.
He said his goal was to kill all of the nearly 600 people on the island. He said he had thought about wearing a swastika on his chest as a pure fear factor, but decided against it because he didn`t want people to think he was a Nazi.
"`You will die today Marxists,` I yelled," Breivik recalled.
One man tried to attack him.
"He comes at me with his hands raised. I push him away with one hand and shoot him with the other," Breivik said.
Another man tried to "dodge the bullets by moving in zigzag, so that I couldn`t shoot him in the head," he said. "So I shot him in the body instead, quite a few times."
A lawyer representing the bereaved asked if Breivik ever felt any emotions.
"I feel great love for this country and my culture and my people. Maybe that`s not normal, but that`s the way I am," he replied.
Earlier, Breivik said he took to the Internet to learn how to carry out his bombing-and-shooting rampage, studying attacks by al Qaeda, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
The confessed mass killer told the court he paid close attention in particular to the World Trade Center bombing in New York and McVeigh`s 1995 attack on an Oklahoma City government building, which killed 168 people and injured over 600.
Breivik also said he had read more than 600 bomb-making guides.
Breivik claims to belong to an alleged anti-Muslim "Knights Templar" network. Many groups claim part of that name, but prosecutors say they don`t believe the group described by Breivik exists.
If declared sane, Breivik could face a maximum 21-year prison sentence or an alternate custody arrangement that would keep him locked up as long as he is considered a menace to society. If found insane, he would be committed to psychiatric care for as long as he`s considered ill.