Norway's self-confessed mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik, angrily dismissed the prospect of a lengthy jail term as “pathetic” yesterday and insisted that the death penalty or acquittal were the only “logical” legal responses to his slaughter of 77 people last year.
The 33-year-old right wing fanatic's outburst came after tough questioning from prosecutors on the third day of his trial for carrying out Norway's worst acts of violence since the Second World War. He killed eight in an Oslo bomb blast and shot dead 69 young people attending a Labour Party summer camp last July.
“If I had feared death, I would not have dared to carry out this operation,” Breivik boasted to the court in support of his death penalty plea. Observers said his angry and illogical remarks showed he was beginning to feel the strain of cross-examination. Norway abolished the death penalty in 1979.
His outburst followed questioning about his claims to belong to a militant anti-Islamic terrorist organisation, called the ‘Knights Templar’, which prosecutors do not believe exists.
Breivik told the court yesterday that prior to carrying out his 2011 massacre, he was “ordained” in London by the group. Pressed about its authenticity, Breivik snapped back at examining prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh, saying “it was not an organisation in the conventional sense” but a group made up of “independent cells”.
Breivik is said to have attended a meeting of the ‘Knights Templar’ in a cafe in London in the spring of 2002. He told the court one of the group's founding members was a Serb nationalist “war hero” who he met in Liberia in 2002.
His descriptions echoed the “manifesto” Breivik posted online shortly before he carried out his attacks. It included a theatrical photographic portrait of him dressed in a black tunic which was covered with sinister pseudo insignia including a death's head pierced by a medieval sword.
Relatives and friends of Breivik's victims sat behind a bulletproof screen as they witnessed the killer making his claims. “I think what we are watching is the revelation of some sort of fantasy or dream,” said Christian Bjelland, of the survivors’ support group.
Whether the ‘Knights Templar’ exist or are merely a figment of Breivik's imagination is likely to be one of the key factors in determining the trial’s outcome. If judges rule the group is a fantasy, it will support the conclusion of one psychiatric report which argues Breivik is a schizophrenic who should spend the rest of his life in care. However a second psychiatric report recently found Breivik to be sane. If judges accept these findings, he could face a maximum 21-year jail term.