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April 10, 2012 3:29 pm
Extremist Norwegian killer declared sane
Anders Behring Breivik, the rightwing extremist who confessed to massacring 77 people in Norway last year, has been declared sane by a psychiatric team before his trial starting next week.
An assessment commissioned by Oslo District Court found that he was “not psychotic, unaware or severely mentally handicapped” during the shooting spree at a Labour party youth camp last July.
The findings contradict an assessment last November that found him to be insane and therefore potentially not fit for a conventional prison sentence. It raises the possibility Mr Breivik may face jail rather than being committed to a psychiatric ward if found guilty.
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He could face up to 21 years in prison if found guilty with the potential for indefinite extensions to his term as long as he is considered a danger to the public.
Mr Breivik has always insisted he is mentally stable, saying he carried out the attacks in a “crusade” against multiculturalism and Islam. In a recent letter to the Norwegian tabloid Verdans Gang, he said being sent to a psychiatric ward would be a “fate worse than death”.
“To send a political activist to an asylum is more sadistic and more evil than killing him,” he wrote, adding that 80 per cent of the first report into his mental state was wrong.
The new report from forensic psychiatrists Terje Tørrissen and Agnar Aspaas concludes that he did not have “significantly weakened capacity for realistic evaluation of his relations with the outside world, and did not act under severely impaired consciousness”.
The report was drawn up on the basis of the case documents, interviews, health records and three weeks of observation in an institution. It concluded there was “a high risk of repetition of violence”.
Mr Breivik, who was charged last month with terrorism offences, has confessed to the attacks. He admitted last year to planting a bomb in Oslo and then driving to the island of Utøya and killing 67 people, mostly teenagers, and wounding 33 others.
Last month prosecutors said they would seek compulsory psychiatric care rather than jail because of the previous report declaring him psychotic, but reserved the right to change their minds. The court will ultimately have to decide whether to declare him insane or not.
The attacks, on July 22 last year, are the worst act of violence Norway has seen since the second world war and led to soul searching about how such a shocking crime could have occurred in a place normally known for safety, equality and wealth.