Breivik in court: courteous, coherent and cold-blooded

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Breivik in court: courteous, coherent and cold-blooded

Breivik in court: courteous, coherent and cold-blooded

Friday, April 20, 2012
  • Breivik
Self confessed mass murderer and right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik attends the fourth day of proceedings in the courtroom 250 at Oslo's courthouse on April 19, 2012. (Stian Lysberg Solum/AFP)

OSLO, April 20, 2012 (AFP) - During the first week of his Oslo trial, Anders Behring Breivik came across as polite, eloquent and calm, but especially as a cold-blooded and remorseless killer who sees his massacre as a heroic act he would gladly repeat and amplify.

 

It is hard to know what to make of this tall, broad-shouldered man, with his slicked and parted shortly-cropped blond hair and thin beard tracing his jaw-line who enters the courtroom each day wearing handcuffs and a wry smile.

 

Apart from his particular far-right "clenched-fist" salute on the first three days of the trial, the most obvious thing about the 33-year-old confessed killer of 77 people is perhaps his calm and composed demeanor, even when saying the most horrific things.

 

"I stand for Utoeya and what I did, and would still do it again," the right-wing extremist told the court calmly on Thursday of his shooting massacre of 69 people -- mainly teens -- on an island near Oslo last July 22.

 

He also said, without showing an ounce of emotion, he had hoped to kill all 569 people on the island and had wanted to kill everyone in the government building he bombed earlier the same day, including the entire Norwegian cabinet.

 

Why?

 

Breivik's lengthy response to that question has been as eloquent as it has been incomprehensible: he sees himself as a militant nationalist "knight" heroically fighting to defend "ethnic Norwegians" from being wiped out by a "Muslim invasion" caused by the Labour government's generous immigration policies.

 

More chilling than his words has been the matter-of-fact way he presents them, always maintaining a courteous and polite, yet emotionless tone of voice.

 

While showing no feelings for his victims, Breivik has lost his composure only once: on the first day of the trial when a self-made film depicting his Islamophobic ideology was screened.

 

His face red with emotion, Breivik's lips trembled and he wiped away tears as photographs of angry Islamists set to music were projected on a large screen.

 

He explained later that he cried "because my country is in the process of dying."

 

He also said he had been especially moved by the music, which he uses in a special form of meditation aimed at blocking out his emotions and smothering his "fear of death."

 

Without the meditation he might not have managed to carry out the attacks or to keep it together during the trial, Breivik admitted, also describing how he used steroids and video shooting games to prepare for what he had expected to be a "suicide mission."

 

His testimony lifted the veil on a person who has been extremely disciplined and determined in his preparations, with detailed weapons knowledge and bomb-making recipes at the tip of his tongue.

 

He has been described by experts as narcissistic, and appears so intent on remaining in control that he often gives the prosecutors tips on how to do their job.

 

When they tried to question him about his alleged network of far-right militants called the Knights Templar, which they don't believe exists, Breivik repeatedly told them to change their line of questioning.

 

Breivik, who is fighting to prove his sanity, continues to insist the network exists, but when confronted with depictions from the 1,500-page manifesto he posted online shortly before his attacks he time and again acknowledged he had exaggerated, or in his words, used a "pompous description" of events.

 

Breivik's testimony has also revealed a person who does not shy away from paradox.

 

He shows no empathy with his victims but insists he is empathetic, he hates Muslims but turns to Al Qaeda for inspiration and he sees the media as his greatest enemy yet obviously basks in its spotlight.

 

While glorifying himself as a willing "martyr", Breivik also employs far more mundane terms, repeatedly calling himself a "salesman" out to sell his ideological message.

 

Part of that message is that he is a hero but also a victim, who is censored and "excluded from democracy" by politicians and journalists working for a multicultural society.

 

Lamenting that his attacks were the only way to get his message across in such a situation, Breivik insisted Wednesday that "if the regime in Norway had changed and especially Norwegian media ... July 22 would never have happened."

 

He went further Thursday, acknowledging that his shooting massacre on Utoeya had been "extremely difficult", but blamed authorities for forcing him to take to such methods, since they "make it impossible to get hold of enough explosives."

 

"I would have preferred a bomb," insisted Breivik.

 

He also reiterated several times that he had picked his targets with the aim of sparing "innocent civilians."

It turns out, however, his definition of an innocent civilian differs somewhat from the norm.

 

Explaining why his Utoeya victims -- the youngest of whom had just celebrated his 14th birthday -- were legitimate targets, Breivik explained that most held "leadership positions" in the Labour Party youth movement.

 

"These were not innocent children, but political activists," he argued.