Suspect in Norway's massacre on trial

Monday, July 25, 2011

Oslo - The suspect in Friday's bomb attack and shooting massacre in Oslo, Norway, has admitted responsibility and will appear in court on Monday, according to authorities and his lawyer.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, will appear before the judges to "explain himself." If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 21 years in jail, authorities say.

"He is prepared to testify in open court about his motives and why he committed the actions he has admitted to," Geir Lippestad, Breivik's defense attorney, told reporters Sunday.

Earlier on Saturday, Lippestad said Breivik "has admitted it was atrocious to have performed these actions, but in his own head, it was necessary."

Norwegian police have confirmed Breivik's admission and said he claimed to have acted alone.
"He has admitted that he was responsible for the bomb attack and for the killing of people on Utoeya island," a police spokesman told a press conference in Oslo on Sunday.

Police said Breivik did not resist when armed officers arrested him on the tiny holiday island of Utoeya 40 km west of Oslo.

By that time, he had killed 86 people, mostly teenagers attending a summer camp for the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labour Party, in a shooting spree that lasted about 90 minutes, according to eye witnesses.

Meanwhile, Norway has plunged in grief as its people come to terms with life after the massive bomb blast and shooting which killed at least 93 people.

Across Oslo, the Norwegian capital, makeshift memorials have been put up by residents near the sites damaged by the blast, and at key locations such as the country's parliament and royal palace.

Flowers were offered and candles lit in remembrance of the 93 persons killed so far in what are described as the country's worst attacks since World War II.

The Norwegian national flag flew at half-mast in honour of the victims.

"Today we allow ourselves to honour and remember the dead," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday at a memorial service for the victims at Oslo Domkirke, the city's historic cathedral.

The service was also attended by Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja, as well as the country's top politicians.

"Each and every one that is taken away from us is a tragedy. And altogether, this is a national tragedy," Stoltenberg said.

He added he was proud to live in the country that showed courage in the midst of such difficulty.
Outside, at least 2 000 people lined the streets leading to the cathedral, whose spire loomed against an overcast sky. Despite the crowds, the atmosphere was somber and quiet.

"It is very, very quiet today in Oslo. This is not usual. It seems like this has affected all the people here," said Asbjorn Bergseng, a resident who stood with mourners in front of the cathedral.

The feeling of quiet shock was felt by others like Marit Nicolaysen, who said Friday's tragedy made her "feel like other Norwegians: very, very sad."

But she added, "I think we all stand together in this situation. We do not know what this will mean for our society but are hoping for the best."

Above all, few people can imagine that an attack of this nature could happen in peaceful Norway.
"We are not used to dealing with anything like this," said Christina Oerwen, a Swedish citizen living in Oslo. "It is something you never thought would happen in this part of the world."

But the facts of the case are indeed shocking. On Friday, a massive explosion rocked downtown Oslo, killing seven and damaging key government buildings including the offices of the prime minister.

Hours later, a gunman dressed in police uniform blasted his way across the tiny island of Utoeya, some 40 km west of the capital, in an orgy of violent shooting that left 86 persons dead.

At the time, the island was hosting a summer camp for the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labour Party. Stoltenberg himself had been scheduled to address the attendees, most aged between 14 and 19 years old, on Saturday.

"It is impossible to comprehend, it is like a nightmare. Words cannot express how I feel," Stoltenberg told a press conference Saturday.

Although shattered glass litters the worst-hit streets, and buildings with blown-out windows are clearly visible, clean-up operations are well underway.

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