In closing arguments after almost ten weeks of testimony, Norwegian prosecutors have requested that judges rule self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik insane, a verdict that would mean his compulsory confinement in psychiatric care rather than a 21-year prison sentence, with a provision to keep him longer if he were still considered dangerous.
As the BBC’s Lars Bevangar points out, “since the question of guilt is not an issue in this case, Breivik’s sanity has from the outset been the central question the court must answer.” Breivik has admitted to killing eight people with a bomb in central Oslo and shooting 69 more, mostly teenagers, of the Labour party’s youth wing on the island of Utøya, on July 22 of last year.
Two court-ordered psychiatric have resulted in contradictory conclusions about Brevik’s sanity. The first, submitted last November, found that he was psychotic and a paranoid schizophrenic. The second, submitted in April, said that he was narcissistic and had anti-social personality disorders but was sane at the time of the attacks and still criminally responsible.
Prosecutor Svein Holden told the court,
In our opinion, it is worse that a psychotic person is sentenced to preventative detention than a nonpsychotic person is sentenced to compulsory mental health care.
Prosecutors paid little heed to the second report in making their argument. The authors of the first psychiatric report had said that Breivik had suffered a “psychotic meltdown” in 2006 after losing money in a failed share deal, after which he moved back in with his mother in western Oslo and played an online video game, World of Warcraft, for 16 hours a day during his “martyrdom year.” After the breakdown, the report describes him as becoming “emotionally flattened” and that he believed himself to be a part of a pan-European militant network, The Knights Templar.
On Friday, Brevik’s defense will make what the Guardian says is an “obligatory demand” for his release. As the Guardian points out, a jail sentence would actually allow him “to burnish his credentials as a political prisoner rather than be written off as a madman.” Breivik has insisted that he is sane and that he had acted in self-defense. He has justified his “operation” as necessary to stop the “Islamic colonization” of Europe by “cultural Marxists” and said that seeing Norway become a multicultural society led to him suffering.
After the prosecutors had read their statement, Breivik smiled and pumped his fist in the air before being led out of the courtroom. He had also smiled while Holden read his statement and shook his head. But, says the Guardian, his “bravado” disappeared when co-prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh “demolished his heroic interpretation of his own life since 2002, describing instead a ‘tragic person’ who had failed to become the success he thought he should be.”
Breivik’s trial has certainly not been without controversy and numerous observations about him have been made. In May, an unidentified friend testified that Breivik, at the time he moved back in with his mother, was “not as joyful, as vivacious” and believed that he may have been gay, says Pink News.
A Norwegian psychiatrist, Ulrik Fredrik Malt of the University of Oslo, has proposed that Breivik has Asperger’s Syndrome and Tourette’s Syndrome, and that he was “likely not psychotic.” Malt’s suggested diagnoses are based on observing Brevik; he suggested the diagnosis of Tourette’s as a reason for Breivik’s frequent inappropriate smiling during the trial. According to The Local, Breivik was displeased by Malt’s diagnosis of him, saying that “I want to congratulate Malt for a very good demolition of my personality.”
Judges will deliver their verdict in July or August.
Related Care2 Coverage
Photo with Utøya Island in the background by lwpkommunikacio