Norway mass killer likely insane: lawyer

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 26, 2011 8:50 AM
Norway mass killer likely insane: lawyer

By Walter Gibbs and Terje Solsvik

OSLO (Reuters) - Anders Behring Breivik is in all likelihood insane, his lawyer said on Tuesday after the anti-Islam radical admitted to a bombing and a shooting spree in Norway that killed 76 people.

"This whole case indicated that he is insane," Geir Lippestad told reporters. It was too early to say if his Norwegian client would plead insanity, he said.

Trying to explain his client's mindset, Lippestad said: "He says he is sorry he had to do this but it is necessary.

"He hates all the Western ideas and the values of democracy ... he expects that this is the start of a war that will last 60 years.

"He looks upon himself as a warrior. He starts this war and takes some kind of pride in that," Lippestad said.

Lippestad said Breivik had used "some kind of drugs" before the crime to keep strong and awake, and was surprised he had not been killed during the attacks or en route to Monday's court hearing.

Lippestad, a member of the Labour party whose youth wing had been the target of Friday's shooting rampage, said he would quit if Breivik did not agree to psychological tests.

PSYCHOSIS

A leading Norwegian forensic psychiatrist and adviser to the police said it was unlikely Breivik would be found to be psychotic and therefore unaccountable for his actions, or even to be able to claim diminished responsibility.

"In Norway you are not accountable for crime and getting sentenced to jail if you display a typical psychosis with hallucinations, delusional ideas or disturbances and this has been the case for a while," said Yngve Ystad, a consultant in forensic psychiatry at Oslo University Hospital.

"I think it is very risky for me to make guesses in this case ... but I think it is natural to expect that this man will be found to have been not psychotic and not unconscious at the moment of the crime.

"He had planned the crime and he was not in that way disturbed by psychotic or delusional ideas because this has been going on for a very long time and, according to the press, he has not been disturbed or suffered severe disturbances."

Under Norwegian law a suspect under the influence of drugs is held to be fully responsible for his crimes, Ystad said.

Breivik may oppose the idea of pleading insanity, Lippestad said, because he thinks he is the "only one who understands the truth," his lawyer told Reuters.

Lippestad said Breivik had stated that he was part of an anti-Islam network that has two cells in Norway and several more abroad. Norwegian police and researchers have cast doubt on such statements.

"He talks about two cells in Norway, but several cells abroad," said Lippestad.

Lippestad was previously best known for defending a right-winger who in 2002 was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison for the racially motivated murder of 15-year-old Benjamin Hermansen, whose father was African.

The late rock star Michael Jackson dedicated his album Invincible to "Benjamin 'Benny' Hermansen," among others.

(Additional reporting by Jon Hemming; Writing by Wojciech Moskwa; editing by Robert Woodward)