OSLO, Norway – In a scene unimaginable in many countries, Norway’s worst mass killer got the chance to explain his fanatical views to the court and the world, unrepentant and dressed in a suit. Prosecutors and lawyers for the families of his 77 victims even shook his hand.
Anders Behring Breivik gave a rambling hour-long address to the court Tuesday, reading from a statement that essentially summarized the 1,500-page anti-Islamic manifesto he posted online before his bomb-and-shooting rampage nine months ago.
The attacks on July 22 were a preventive strike. I acted in self-defense on behalf of my people, my city, my country, the 33-year-old far-right militant declared, demanding to be found innocent of terror and murder charges. I would have done it again.
Breivik has five days to explain why he detonated a bomb outside government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people, then drove to a nearby resort island, where he massacred 69 others, mostly teens, at a summer youth camp run by the governing Labor Party.
Norwegian legal experts said it was important that the country’s legal traditions apply to everyone, even Breivik, whose massacre shocked this prosperous, peaceful nation.
The justice system isn’t about revenge, but sober, dignified treatment for everyone accused of a crime, said Thomas Mathiesen, a professor of sociology of law at the University of Oslo.