Norway killer sticks to Templar claim: Lawyer

Anders Behring Breivik`s next pretrial hearing is set for September 19, and is likely to be held behind closed doors.

Oslo: Confessed Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is sticking to his claim of belonging to a militant order of Knights Templar, even though police have found no evidence it exists, his lawyer said on Friday.

The 32-year-old, arrested after a car bombing and shooting massacre that killed 77 people on July 22, claims he was the youngest member of the anti-Muslim militia at its supposed creation in London in 2002, defence lawyer Geir Lippestad said in an interview.

Breivik has told police that many of the other members are war-hardened former fighters from Serbia, the lawyer said.

"Both the police and I are using a lot of resources" to investigate those claims, he said.

Police say they believe Breivik acted alone when he set off the car bomb that killed eight people in Oslo`s government district and then opened fire at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya island, killing 69. However, his claim of a mysterious crusader network puzzles investigators because Breivik appears to have been truthful when explaining other aspects of the attacks.

Breivik has said he carried out the attacks alone. But police prosecutor Christian Hatlo said the main priority of the investigation remains to find out if Breivik had any accomplices and if there are other cells.

"It does not appear very likely, but it is too early to draw conclusions," Hatlo said on Friday.

Breivik, who surrendered to police after the massacre at Utoya, has confessed to the attacks but denies terrorism charges saying he is in a state of war. In a rambling manifesto distributed online, Breivik said the Knights Templar will overthrow European governments and expel Muslim immigrants in a civil war culminating in 2083.

Lippestad said Breivik claims he wasn`t targeting children at the youth camp on Utoya, but adults aged 18-24 that he viewed as potential future leaders of the Labor Party. The youngest victim was 14.

"He says he has a concept of honour. He is at war, and when he is at war he does not want to kill children," Lippestad said during the interview in Oslo.

But Breivik, who is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, is showing no remorse.

"He expressed that he would have done the same thing today," Lippestad said. "He realises he is being demonised but (believes) the war and his cause take precedence."

Breivik`s next pretrial hearing is set for September 19, and is likely to be held behind closed doors, like previous hearings.

He is being held in isolation -- which he has described as "a sadistic torture method" -- though he has access to books, movies and a computer that is not connected to the Internet, Lippestad said.

The actual trial isn`t expected to start until next year, and Lippestad said he and Breivik will request it be open to the public.

"It is historically important," Lippestad said.

Bureau Report

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