On the second day of his trial in Oslo, Anders Behring Breivik, proffered the same Nazi salute he had executed the day before, a deeply repugnant gesture, since it inevitably brings up horrific memories of the holocaust. The proceedings also held a few shockers for Mr. Breivik’s victims and their families as he solemnly declared he was prepared “to start all over again”.
The man who killed 77 persons in a bomb blast in Oslo and at a Labour party youth camp on Utoya island last year was smiling, unperturbed, as he read out a long declaration. The court on Tuesday morning permitted him to read out a statement he had written. He said he had “toned down the rhetoric” in his paper out of “consideration” for his victims. He said he had perpetrated the attacks “as an urgent measure in order to save my people, my country, my culture.”
Families of the victims expressed shock and outrage that he had been allowed so much time to air his views. “After everything he has done, killed our children, it is wrong to allow him to speak this way in public. He will attract more followers that way and besmirch the memory of those who died,” said a distraught father outside the courtroom.
There was no hint of any regret. Breivik called for his release and said there were “other terrorist cells” like his own operating in the country. He said these other cells were also run by single individuals like him. Breivik told the court that he used the term “commander” to describe himself - “a person who has authority over and links to two other terrorist cells.”
Breivik began by declaring that the adolescents killed on Utoya were “not innocent children”. Instead, he said, said they were naïve and indoctrinated. “They were not young innocents; they were political militants,” he said. “Killing 70 persons can avert a civil war,” Breivik declared. The self avowed killer said that to die or go to prison for his people was for him a “great honour”.
At times cold and calculating at times boastful, Breivik said: “I led the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack in Europe since the Second World War,” adding that “violent revolution” was the “only solution”.
People who called him diabolical tended to confuse violence with evil, Breivik explained. “The difference lies in the intention. A certain type of violence can prevent greater violence from occurring”, he said. “When a peaceful revolution is impossible, our only option is violent revolution.” The self-confessed killer used the royal We as if to suggest that he was at the head of a very large movement of like-thinking individuals.
In an attempt to warn the families and the public of what lay in store, Beivik’s lawyer,Geir Lippestad had said his client was likely to make utterances “that would be difficult to bear”. The trial is expected to continue for several weeks more.