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Norway survivors braced for trial

Those who survived Norway's worst peacetime massacre are bracing for the horror of Utoya island to return when the trial of confessed killer Anders Breivik begins.

"I dread the trial," Per Anders Langeroed, a 26-year-old master's student, said. "It will come back. Stories. Questions. Could I have saved others? Could I have done more? I survived by pure chance."

When Mr Langeroed heard about the bomb explosion in central Oslo on July 22 last year, he wrote reassuringly to his Facebook friends that he was "safe on Utoya".

Moments later, even greater mayhem was unleashed on the island youth camp outside the Norwegian capital. Scores of mostly teenage victims were slaughtered as Langeroed and others fled into a frigid lake to escape the rampaging gunman.

Breivik, 33, faces terrorism and premeditated murder charges for the bombing in Oslo's government district and the shooting spree at the governing Labour Party's annual youth camp on Utoya.

Eight people died in Oslo and 69 were killed on the island, in a lake 25 miles north west of the capital.

Breivik surrendered to a commando team on the island and confessed to both attacks, but rejects criminal guilt. The attacks, he claims, were necessary to protect Norway from being overrun by Muslims.

The targets were members of Norway's left-leaning political establishment, which Breivik accused of destroying his country by allowing immigration from Muslim countries. Official statistics show about 2% of Norway's population of five million are now members of Islamic religious societies.

Breivik, who portrays himself as a modern-day crusader, is not likely to show any remorse during the trial. Even his defence lawyers say his only regret is that the death toll was not higher.

The survivors and close relatives of those who died can take time off from work or school to attend the trial, which is scheduled for 10 weeks. Some will testify as witnesses.


From Belfast Telegraph