Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway gunman faces court hearing

The man blamed for Friday's twin terror attacks in Norway is due to make his first appearance in court.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, admits carrying out a massacre on an island youth camp and a bombing in the capital Oslo in which at least 93 people died.

He is said to be linked to far right, anti-Islamic organisations, and to have spent years planning the operation.

Norway will observe a minute's silence for the victims at 1200 local time (1000 GMT).

Mr Breivik is set to appear at the hearing an hour later. He has said he will explain his actions to the court. Earlier he described the attacks as "gruesome but necessary".

But it is not clear if the court session will be open or closed to the public. A judge is set to rule on a police request for the hearing be held behind closed doors.

There have been calls for a media blackout of the trial so as not to give Mr Breivik a platform for his views.

Under Norwegian law he faces a maximum of 21 years in jail if convicted, although that sentence can be extended if a prisoner is deemed a threat to the public.

Police said that while the suspect has admitted to the killings, he has not accepted criminal responsibility for them.

His lawyer Geir Lippestad told Norwegian media on Sunday: "He thought it was gruesome having to commit these acts, but in his head they were necessary.

"He wished to attack society and the structure of society."

Still pictures of the suspect, wearing a wetsuit and carrying an automatic weapon, appeared in a 12-minute anti-Muslim video called Knights Templar 2083, which appeared briefly on YouTube.

A 1,500-page document written in English and said to be by Mr Breivik - posted under the pseudonym of Andrew Berwick - was also put online hours before the attacks.

The bomb in Oslo targeted buildings connected to Norway's governing Labour Party, and the youth camp on Utoeya island was also run by the party.

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