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Prosecutors press Breivik on 'Knights Templar'

The 33-year-old Norwegian admitted today that the network described in his online manifesto is “not an organisation in a conventional sense”.

 Anders Behring Breivik sits between his defence lawyers during his trial
Anders Behring Breivik sits between his defence lawyers during his trial
Image: AP Photo/Lise Aserud/Scanpix Norway/POOL

CONFESSED MASS KILLER Anders Behring Breivik’s claims of belonging to a secret anti-Muslim militia appeared to crack today, as he acknowledged the supposed crusader network is “not an organisation in a conventional sense.”

Nonetheless, the 33-year-old Norwegian, who has admitted to killing 77 people in a bomb-and-shooting massacre on July 22, insisted the mysterious group exists when questioned by prosecutors on the third day of his terror trial.

“It is not in my interest to shed light on details that could lead to arrests,” he said refusing to comment on the group’s other members.

Prosecutors have said they believe that the “Knights Templar” group that Breivik described in an online manifesto as “a nationalist military order and military/criminal tribunal” doesn’t exist “in the way he describes it.” Breivik said police just hadn’t done a good enough job in uncovering it.

‘Independent cells’

“In principle it is not an organisation in a conventional sense,” he said. The group consists of “independent cells,” he added, “and therefore in the long term will be a leaderless organisation.”

The issue is of key importance in determining Breivik’s sanity, and whether he’s sent to prison or compulsory psychiatric care for the bomb-and-shooting massacre that shocked Norway on July 22.

Breivik claims to have carried out the attacks on behalf of the organisation, which he described in the 1,500-page compendium he posted online before the attacks as a militant nationalist group fighting a Muslim colonisation of Europe.

Prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh pressed the 33-year-old Norwegian about details on the group, its members and its meetings. Breivik claimed to have met a Serb “war hero” living in exile during a trip to Liberia in 2002, but he refused to identify him.

“What is it you’re getting at?” Breivik told the prosecutor, then answered the question himself, saying prosecutors want to “sow doubt over whether the KT network exists.”

Clashing psychiatric evaluations

The main point of his defence is to avoid an insanity ruling, which would deflate his political arguments.

One psychiatric evaluation found him psychotic and “delusional,” while another found him mentally competent to be sent to prison.

If found 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 declared insane he would be committed to psychiatric care for as long as he is considered ill.

Breivik also refused to give details on what he claims was the founding session of the “Knights Templar” in London in 2002. He conceded, however, that he embellished somewhat in the manifesto when he described members at the founding session as “brilliant political and military tacticians of Europe.”

‘People with great integrity’

Breivik testified that he had used “pompous” language and described them instead as “people with great integrity.”

Bejer Engh challenged him on whether the meeting had taken place at all.

“Yes, there was a meeting in London,” Breivik insisted.

“It’s not something you have made up?” Engh countered.

“I haven’t made up anything. What is in the compendium is correct,” he said.

Later, he answered with more nuance.

“There is nothing that is made up, but you have to see what is written in a context. It is a glorification of certain ideals,” Breivik said.

Breivik’s defensive answers contrasted with the assertive posture he took Tuesday when he read a prepared statement to the court, boasting that he had carried out the most “spectacular” attack by a nationalist militant since World War II.

“I think what we are watching is the revelation of a sort of fantasy or a dream,” said Christin Bjelland, deputy head of a support group for survivors of the July 22 massacre.

Breivik admits he set off a bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight, then drove to Utoya island outside the capital and massacred 69 people in a shooting spree at the governing Labor Party’s youth summer camp on Utoya island.

He said his victims — mostly teenagers — were not innocent but legitimate targets because they were representatives of a “multiculturalist” regime he claims is deconstructing Norway’s national identity by allowing immigration.

Explainer: How the Norwegian courts operate

Read: Breivik says he would carry out “spectacular” attack again

VIDEO: Breivik cries as he watches his own propaganda video

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Associated Press

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