Justice minister regrets errors over Norway killings

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 03, 2011 6:40 AM
Justice minister regrets errors over Norway killings

By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget has expressed regret for errors in the response to the killing of 77 people by Anders Behring Breivik in July, the clearest acknowledgement by the government to date that some criticism of the police was justified.

"All of us, including I, must express regret for mistakes," Storberget told the daily Aftenposten, as 180 journalists prepared to visit the island where Breivik gunned down 69 people. Eight people died hours earlier when Breivik detonated a bomb in Oslo.

The harshest criticism has centered on the hour it took police to arrest Breivik on July 22 after the first reports of gunfire on Utoeya island, 40 km (25 miles) north of Oslo.

Storberget took responsibility for "shortcomings" in the response, including incorrect information the police provided to some victims' families, but said he had no plan to resign.

Journalists were to cross by boat on Monday to the island where more than 500 members of Norway's Labor Party youth wing were attending a summer camp when Breivik opened fire.

Norwegian investigators say they believe Breivik, who says he targeted the Labor Party because it had allowed too many Muslim migrants into Norway, acted alone.

During more than 75 hours of police questioning Breivik has expressed no regret for his actions.

Police in Oslo say they want to interview Alan Lake, whom they believe is a key figure in Britain's anti-Islamist English Defense League (EDL), to find out if he may have been an ideological source of inspiration to Breivik, a senior police official told Reuters.

"Alan Lake is an obvious person we would like to speak to," Oslo police prosecutor Paal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby said.

He added: "At this point in the investigation there is no indication that anyone knew about his (Breivik's) plans."

The English Defense League said in an email to Reuters that Lake had "absolutely nothing to do with the EDL." Lake could not be reached for comment but has previously denied being a senior member of the EDL.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)