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Norwegian mass killer ruled insane, likely to avoid jail

Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik who killed seventy-seven people in July likely to be spared jail after being declared "insane" by prosecutor

Reuters , Wednesday 30 Nov 2011
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(Photo: Reuters)
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Court-appointed psychiatrists have concluded that Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is criminally insane, prosecutors said on Tuesday, meaning he is likely to be sent to a psychiatric institution indefinitely rather than to jail.

Breivik killed 77 people in July by bombing central Oslo and then gunning down dozens of mostly teenagers at a summer camp of the ruling Labour Party's youth wing, in Norway's worst attacks since World War Two.

Prosecutors said Breivik, a self-declared anti-immigration militant, believed he had staged what he called "the executions" out of his love for his people.

"The conclusion ... is that he is insane," prosecutor Svein Holden told a news conference on Breivik's psychiatric evaluation. "He lives in his own delusional universe and his thoughts and acts are governed by this universe."

If the court accepts the psychiatrists' conclusions, Breivik would be held in a psychiatric institution rather than in a prison. Norwegian courts can challenge psychiatric evaluations or order new tests but rarely reject them.

Breivik could be held as long as he poses a threat to society but may be released if found to be healthy.

One survivor of the shooting rampage on Utoeya island said Norway had to be protected from Breivik.

"The most important thing for me is not to punish Breivik," 20-year-old Bjoern Ihler, a survivor of the shooting rampage on Utoeya island, told Reuters. "What matters to me is that he no longer poses a threat to society."

Breivik had developed paranoid schizophrenia and was psychotic at the time of the attacks, Holden said, adding that his condition was persisting.

In their report the psychiatrists described many different forms of "bizarre delusions".

"They especially describe what they call Breivik's delusions where he sees himself as chosen to decide who shall live and who shall die, and that he is chosen to save what he calls his people," said Holden.

"Breivik has stated that he committed the murders, or executions as he calls them, because of his love for his people," he added.

In a manifesto posted on the internet shortly before his killing spree on July 22, Breivik declared he wanted to protect Norway from what he said was the threat of Muslim immigration.

Breivik could legally be freed if declared healthy. "If he is not psychotic and does not pose a danger to society, then his sentence cannot be upheld," prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh told the news conference.

If the court accepts the psychiatric evaluation, Breivik would still be put on trial but could not be jailed.

He could face court hearings every three years to determine if he needs to remain committed to a psychiatric institution, and could be held for life if he remained a threat.

The penal system of the Nordic nation of 4.9 million inhabitants is based, perhaps more than in other countries, on the principal of rehabilitation rather than punishment.

Norway does not have the death penalty and the maximum criminal sentence is 21 years.

During his 13 conversations with two mental health experts, which lasted about 36 hours, Breivik called himself the "most perfect knight" to live after World War Two.

Breivik also claimed that his organisation, which he calls the Knights Templar after the mediaeval religious order, will take over power in Europe and put himself forward as the future regent of Norway and the continent.

"The experts also describe Breivik's intentions to conduct breeding projects with Norwegians and organise them in reserves," said Holden.

Breivik, who is currently being held in isolation in prison, was not aware of the conclusion of his psychiatric evaluation, prosecutors said.

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