x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Insanity ruling is unlikely over Norway mass killer

The decision on his mental state will determine whether he can be held criminally liable and punished with a prison sentence or sent to a psychiatric ward for treatment.

OSLO // It's unlikely that the right-wing extremist who admitted killing dozens in Norway last week will be declared legally insane because he appears to have been in control of his actions, the head of the panel that will review his psychiatric evaluation said.

The decision on Anders Behring Breivik's mental state will determine whether he can be held criminally liable and punished with a prison sentence or sent to a psychiatric ward for treatment.

The July 22 attacks were so carefully planned that it would be difficult to argue they were the work of a delusional madman, said Dr Tarjei Rygnestad, who heads the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine. In Norway, an insanity defence requires that a defendant be in a state of psychosis while committing the crime with which he or she is charged. That means the defendant has lost contact with reality to the point that he's no longer in control of his own actions.

"It's not very likely he was psychotic," Dr Rygnestad said. The forensic board must review and approve the examination by two court-appointed psychiatrists before the report goes to the judge hearing the case. The judge will then decide whether Breivik can be held criminally liable.