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Norway’s Breivik resists prosecution’s attempts to delve into his past

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik refused to answer questions in court Wednesday.

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik refused to answer questions today, hindering the prosecution’s attempts to understand what led him to carry out last summer’s twin terror attacks that left 77 people dead.

During his second day of testimony, Mr. Breivik answered vaguely and declined to comment about secret meetings with nationalists in London and Liberia in 2002 and accused prosecutors of trying to “delegitimize” him and disprove his contact in 2002 in Liberia with a Serbian military hero and the establishment of Knights Templar at a meeting in London.

The questioning is part of the prosecutor’s attempt to dissect earlier events in Breivik’s life that led him to write his ideologically-charged manifesto “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” and later kill 77 people by placing a car bomb outside the government buildings in Oslo and gunning down Labour party youth at their summer camp on the island of Utøya.

“It’s important for us to know what’s true and what’s been invented,” said Inga Bejer Engh, Oslo public prosecutor, during her confrontational cross-examination today.

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Prosecutors have questioned the existence of Knights Templar, a group Breivik claims was formed in 2002 to “help unite all militant nationalists,” and his contact with other cells of the group. Breivik today maintained that he met with three others in London during May 2002 after a visit to Liberia, where he posed as a Norwegian UNICEF worker in order to get into the country and as a blood diamond smuggler in order to gain credibility to meet with a Serbian nationalist.

“Knights Templar is a leaderless network, made to be self-driven cells,” he said. “For militants, (Knights Templar) is meant to be a version of al-Qaeda.

“You assume that the cover (in Liberia) is what really happened, even though you haven’t interviewed the people I have been in contact with down there,” he added. 

According to Breivik, he met in London under the codename “Sigurd the Crusader” (a nod to 12th century Norwegian King Sigurd Magnusson) with his English mentor “Richard the Lionhearted” and two others. It was then he says that he was asked to write a compendium that would “provide the foundation for a new movement in Europe.” He also admitted to have contacts with two cells in Norway, but declined to give the names of people he had met because it “could lead to their apprehension.”

Breivik is expected to continue his testimony until April 23. Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s defense attorney, has stressed the importance of Breivik’s testimony in establishing his client’s sanity. Breivik himself wants to be considered sane so that his ideology would “stand stronger,” according to Mr. Lippestad.

Breivik’s mental standing is the focus of this historic case, which addresses Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity. Prosecutors based the recommendation in their indictment that Breivik be sentenced to compulsory mental care on the first forensic psychiatric report, released in November, that deemed him “paranoid schizophrenic” and hence criminally not punishable for his actions. However, a second forensic report last week concluded he was “not psychotic.”

The two conflicting reports make it possible for prosecutors to change the indictment recommendation and instead seek the maximum criminal sentence of 21 years. The defense plans to argue Breivik is sane, but not guilty because he acted in “self defense.”

Breivik told prosecutors today he thought it was “ridiculous” that Norway could only sentence him to 21 years and that he had more respect for capital punishment.

“No, I don’t want [capital punishment], but I would have respected that,” he said, adding that if Norway doubled the current maximum sentence it would “serve his cause” and “prove Norway had thrown their principles out the window.”