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Trial of Norway killer Anders Breivik gets underway in Oslo

Anders Behring Breivik will use his five days of testimony to explain why he murdered 77 people – and to plead not guilty.

Breivik gestures as he arrives at the courtroom.
Breivik gestures as he arrives at the courtroom.
Image: Frank Augstein/AP/Press Association Images

MASS MURDERER ANDERS Behring Breivik has appeared at the Oslo City Court, accused of murder and terrorism this morning.

Breivik has arrived for the first day of his trial with his counsel – wearing a dark suit, white shirt and brown tie – and court is in session since exactly 8am.

According to the Norway Post, proceedings will last until 22 June as the panel of six judges search for answers about what happened on 22 July last year when Breivik planted a bomb in Government buildings, killing eight people in Oslo, before going on a shooting rampage on Utoya Island.

The 33-year-old Norwegian has confessed to the killings but denies criminal responsibility so is expected to enter a plea of not guilty today. He is set to give five days of testimony and some people fear that he will use the opportunity to try to justify why he is waging a war against an Islamic take-over of Norway.

The families of his victims are gearing themselves up for a ten-week ordeal during which they will hear Breivik defend his actions on the day that has terrorised the Norwegian population.

BBC News reports that he will says the teenagers he killed on the island were “legitimate targets” because they were attending a camp organised by Labour, the governing party who he says tolerates Muslims.

“I do not know how I will react, I do not think you can prepare for it,” said Stine Renate Haaheim, a 27-year-old Labour Party lawmaker who survived the Utoya massacre by swimming away from the island.

She added that she is concerned that Breivik will use the intense media focus during the trial to draw attention to his extremist views.

The trial opened at 8am (Irish time) today but queues had started to form two hours previous outside the courtroom as members of the public flocked to see what has become known as the “trial of the century” in Norway.

Overflow auditoriums with video coverage of the proceedings have been set up near the court house as the public gallery (which seats 190) is full. Court rooms in 17 Norwegian cities will also broadcast the trial to ensure bereaved families and survivors can follow events if they wish.

The Foreigner reports from Norway that “rigorous” security measures have been put in place outside the courthouse, similar to those seen at airports. Protective glass also surrounds areas of the main courtroom.

The court has to decide if Breivik is criminally insane – in which case he will be committed to psychiatric care – or mentally stable so he can be sent to prison.

The maximum sentence that can be imposed on the accused is 21 years but this can be extended to ensure he remains locked up.

Diane Magnay, tweeting from Oslo, has said that the prosecution will argue Breivik was in a “psychotic state” at the time of the attacks but the defence will claim sanity.

The self-proclaimed writer was found insane in one examination that recommended committing him to compulsory psychiatric care, while a second assessment found him mentally competent to be sent to prison. It’s up to the judges in Oslo’s district court to decide which diagnosis they find most believable.

Norway’s NRK television will broadcast parts of the trial, but is not allowed to show Breivik’s testimony. However, some Norwegians believe that media coverage of Breivik and beliefs has been too extensive.

One of the country’s daily newspapers, Dagbladet, has saturated its website with coverage of the trial but has also provided a Breivik-free version for those who do not want to follow the events.

Throughout the trial, about 130 witnesses are expected to be called, including a number of far right extremists who were quoted in Breivik’s manifesto.

Lawyers for the accused have warned the nation that what his client will say may be offensive and shocking. Breivik has shown no remorse for his actions and even instructed his counsel to tell the press he was not sorry and would do the same thing over again.

Norway killer Anders Breivik found sane in new examination>

‘Now you’ve killed my dad’: Horrific eyewitness accounts of Norway attacks>

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