In Chilling Detail, Norwegian Gunman Recounts Killings

Posted April 20th, 2012 at 12:40 pm (UTC-5)
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In chilling detail, Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik on Friday described how he hunted down and shot to death 69 people last July at a political youth camp on an island outside Oslo.

Right-wing extremist Breivik told a court filled with relatives of those he killed that at first he was hesitant to carry out his plan to shoot as many people as he could when he arrived on Utoya island. At that point, he had already set off a car bomb at a government building in Oslo, killing eight.

Breivik, testifying on the fifth day of his trial, said his whole body tried to fight against shooting anyone. But then Breivik recalled that as he encountered his first victim, “I lifted my weapon and I shot him in the head.”

After that, he said the killing became easier for him.

Breivik said he walked toward a cafe at the camp and thought, “Now I am going into that building and will execute as many people as possible in that building.”

At another point, he said he encountered people “screaming and begging for their lives.” But he said some of his victims seemed “paralyzed” and unable to attempt to escape his onslaught.

He said some of them “were playing dead, that's why I fired so many times.”

Most of the people he killed on the island were teenagers attending a youth camp for Norway's governing Labor Party. Breivik has acknowledged carrying out the bombing and shooting assaults, but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges. He says the twin attacks were justified to fight multi-culturalism in Norway and what he saw as a Muslim invasion of Europe.

He said he planned the bombing after intensively researching other attacks throughout the world, including that of another anti-government terrorist, Timothy McVeigh in the United States. McVeigh, since executed, detonated a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168 people and injured more than 600.

Breivik's testimony was broadcast into 17 other courtrooms, but not on Norwegian television.

One Norwegian author watching the proceedings, Asne Seierstad, noted that Breivik has shown no emotion as he recounted his attacks last July 22.

“He has put on an armor, he has a flak jacket on his emotions and he has prepared for this and I think that, up to now, he has not been moved by anything but his own video and he said exactly that he was not prepared. Just as the victims and the relatives and the survivors have to be prepared to just go through this. And the big question is whether any of the prosecutors or the lawyers are able to break through his armor. It seems they are not, because of course all people have emotions, but he seems to only have self-pity, if anything.''

A key component of the trial is to decide whether Breivik was sane during the attacks. Norway does not have the death penalty, but if the court finds him guilty and sane, he will serve a maximum 21-year sentence, which could be extended if he were considered a continued danger.

Breivik has said an insanity ruling would be “worse than death.”