Norway Minister Defends Police Response to Massacre

Posted July 26th, 2011 at 5:35 am (UTC-5)
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Norway's justice minister has praised police for their response to gun and bomb attacks that killed 76 people Friday, saying officers did “fantastic” work.

Justice Minister Knut Storberget said Tuesday it is important to have “an open and critical” approach to evaluating the response, but that there is “a time for everything.”

His comments follow criticism in the media about how long it took police to reach the island of Utoeya, where the alleged gunman, Anders Behring Breivik, is accused of killing at least 68 people. Police have said it took at least an hour for officers to get to the site, where hundreds of youths had gathered at a Labor Party summer camp.

Breivik went there after allegedly bombing a government building in Oslo, killing eight people.

As many as 150,000 Norwegians marched through Oslo Monday to pay tribute to the victims. Many participants in Monday's rally held white and red roses to mark the worst violence in Norway since the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Breivik made his first court appearance behind closed doors Monday. The judge later said Breivik admitted to the killings, but denied committing any crime. He claimed to be on a mission to “save Europe” from a Muslim takeover. Breivik accused the ruling Labor Party of betraying Norwegian culture by encouraging immigration

The court ordered him to be detained for eight weeks. He is to spend the first four weeks in solitary confinement. The judge said the detention is necessary to prevent Breivik from interfering with the police investigation. The judge also said authorities will investigate Breivik's claim that two other cells are planning more attacks.

The suspect's father, retired diplomat Jens Breivik, told reporters in France that he feels shame and wishes his son had killed himself instead.

Police significantly reduced the number of people confirmed dead in the attacks from 93 to 76. They say confusion at the attack sites led to the inflated death toll.