OSLO // Anders Behring Breivik insisted yesterday he would kill 77 people again, calling his July rampage the most “spectacular” attack by a nationalist militant since the Second World War.
Reading a prepared statement in court, the anti-Muslim extremist lashed out at the Norwegian and European governments for embracing immigration and multiculturalism.
Breivik claimed to be speaking as a commander of an anti-Islam militant group he called the Knights Templar – a group that prosecutors say does not exist.
Maintaining he acted out of “goodness, not evil” to prevent a wider civil war, Breivik vowed, “I would have done it again”.
Pressed by prosecutors to explain what he meant, he compared his attacks to the US dropping atom bombs on Japan during the Second World War.
“They did it for something good, to prevent further war,” Breivik said.
He has five days to explain why he set off a bomb in Oslo’s government district on July 22, killing eight people, and then gunned down 69 others, mostly teenagers, at a youth camp for Norway’s Labour Party outside the capital.
He denies criminal guilt, saying he was acting in self-defence, and claims the targets were part of a conspiracy to “deconstruct” Norway’s cultural identity.
Court interpreters yesterday corrected his plea on Monday from “self-defence” to acting out of “necessity”.
The change reflected Breivik’s use of a defence in Norwegian law that states: “No person may be punished for any act that he has committed in order to save someone’s person or property from an otherwise unavoidable danger, when the circumstances justified him in regarding this danger as particularly significant in relation to the damage that might be caused by his act.”
“The attacks on July 22 were a preventive strike. I acted in self-defence on behalf of my people, my city, my country,” he said as he finished his statement, in essence a summary of the 1,500-page manifesto he posted online before the attacks.
“I therefore demand to be found innocent of the present charges.”
Breivik compared Norway’s Labour Party youth wing to the Hitler Youth and called their annual summer gathering an “indoctrination” camp.
But he later told prosecutors he would have preferred to attack a conference of Norwegian journalists instead, but wasn’t able to carry out that “operation”.
Breivik’s testimony was delayed after one of the five judges hearing the case, the lay judge Thomas Indreboe, was dismissed for his comments online the day after the attack, saying Breivik deserved the death penalty.
Norway does not have the death penalty. If found mentally sane – the key issue to be decided in the trial – Breivik could face a maximum 21-year prison sentence or an arrangement that would keep him locked up as long as he was considered a menace to society.
He is being tried by a panel of two professional judges and three lay judges – citizens appointed for four-year terms who participate on an equal basis in deciding guilt and sentencing.
The system is designed to let ordinary people have a role in the Norwegian justice system, although the lead judge still runs the trial.