SHARE
COPY LINK

ANDERS BEHRING BREIVIK

Prosecution may accept Breivik insanity ruling

A Norwegian prosecutor said on Friday he was conditionally ready to accept that the gunman who killed 77 people in twin attacks last July was not criminally responsible for his actions.

Prosecution may accept Breivik insanity ruling
Photo: Heiko Junge/Scanpix (File)

This would allow Anders Behring Breivik to be sentenced to confinement in a psychiatric ward instead of a prison at the end of his trial.

"The way the case appears at the time the charges are being brought, there is no basis to request a regular prison penalty," state prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch wrote in instructions to the  prosecutors handling the case.

"But it must be clear in the charge sheet that the prosecution reserves the right, during the trial, to request a prison punishment or containment lasting 21 years (the maximum prison sentence for people deemed criminally responsible in Norway), based on the complete evidence shown to the court," he added.

Busch said that the way it looks now, Behring Breivik will be tried as someone considered criminally insane, while stressing however that this position could change if new information about the 33-year-old right-wing extremist's mental state emerges.

Behring Breivik is currently undergoing a second court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, after the initial one late last year found him criminally insane, sparking objections in some quarters, especially among families of his victims.

But regardless of the findings of the second expert assessment of his criminal accountability, he will go on trial starting April 16th and it will in the end be up to the judge to determine whether he can be sentenced to prison.

On July 22nd, the man who has claimed to be on a crusade against multi-culturalism and the "Muslim invasion" of Europe set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people.

He then went to Utøya island north-west of Oslo, and, dressed as a police officer, spent more than an hour methodically shooting and killing another 69 people, mainly teens, attending a summer camp hosted by the ruling Labour Party's youth wing.

Behring Breivik is under 24-hour surveillance by psychiatrists at a prison near Oslo. The assessment by two new psychiatrists is due on April 10th, just days ahead of the start of his trial.

If they also conclude that he is criminally insane, the judges will have little choice but to order his confinement in a psychiatric ward, experts say.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

SHOW COMMENTS