Norway Mourns Its Dead; Closed Hearing For Gunman
Some 100,000 people rallied in Oslo in a nationwide outpouring of grief for those killed in the horrific attacks there and on the island of Utøya last Friday. Thousands also marched throughout Norway, in Bergen, Trondheim and Kristiansand. A carpet sea of flowers filled the center of Oslo. At noon, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg led the nation in a minute of silence.
Shortly afterwards — to crowds screaming that he is a traitor — Andres Behring Breivik appeared in court to face terrorism charges of destabilizing vital functions of society, including government and causing serious fear in the population, says the BBC. Judge Kim Heger had decided on a closed hearing after police raised concerns about security, including that Breivik, who had wanted to wear a uniform and read a speech to justify his actions — requests which the judge denied — might use the hearing to send signals to accomplices. Breivik pleaded “not guilty” and said that he was “acting to save Norway and Europe from “Marxist and Muslim colonisation” and that he did not aim to kill as many people as possible, but to “create the greatest loss possible to Norway’s governing Labour Party, which he accused of failing the country on immigration.”
Prosecutor Christian Hatlo said that Breivik is now claiming that there were two other cells from his terrorist working with him; this statement has set off an international investigation, though Norwegian police and analysts have cast doubt on Breivik’s claims. Breivik will be detained in custody for eight weeks, the first four in full isolation; his trial might not take place for up to a year, says the Guardian. The closed door hearing also prevents Breivik from turning the hearing into a platform for airing his extremist and anti-Islamic views in the media. Many have been scrutinizing the 1500-page manifesto he posted online.
Said Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, “He has a completely different perception of reality than us other Norwegians, for instance he thinks that torture exists in prisons in Norway.”
French authorities went to the house of Breivik’s father, a retired diplomat in southern France, yesterday, reportedly in a “preventative role.” Jen Breivik said that he had had no contact with his son for 15 years. Breivik said that “What he ought to have done… was to have killed himself.”
Police in Norway have adjusted the number of those killed to 76, from 93. Eight died in the bombing of government buildings in central Oslo and 96 are injured. Several are still missing.
Survivors have criticized the police who, after being summoned to Utøya, took over an hour to get there. Police boarded a boat that took on water due to their weapons and the number of officers and had to turn back; they also said they did not get to the island by helicopter, though a helicopter from the state TV station NRK flew over Utøya.
The attacks may also spark a discussion about whether or not police in Norway should be armed. Currently, police in Norway rarely are, says the New York Times. There were police present on Utøya, including Trond Berntsen, the step-brother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Berntsen was one of the first killed; Monica Bosei, who had organized the Labour party camp on Utøya for years, had ridden the ferry to the island with Breivik and became suspicious about his behavior. She spoke to Berntsen about her suspicions and Breivik took out a gun and shot both, according to Earl Sandbakken, the 19-year-old deputy chairman of the Labour party in the city of Baerum who was on the ferry with Breivik and Bosei to Utøya, says Al Jazeera.
The annual Norway Cup, a youth soccer tournament, is to be held this weekend, though many are wondering if parents will feel safe about sending their children now.
In the evening Prime Minister Stoltenberg addressed a crowd holding red and white roses and said, “By taking part you are saying a resounding ‘yes’ to democracy.”
He also called the gathering a “march for democracy, a march for tolerance, a march for unity” — and, too, a march for hope.
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