As the prosecutors of Anders Breivik presented their closing remarks on June 21st, one question remained in the case: was Breivik sane when he committed the crimes in Norway last July? There have been contradicting assessments presented by the court psychiatrists. The initial assessment stated that Breivik was a ‘paranoid schizophrenic,’ and consequently stripped him of responsibility for his actions. However, a second opinion was sought out which claimed that from his actions as well as his court demeanor Anders Breivik was, in fact, sane.
For those unfamiliar with the crimes carried out in Norway on July 22nd 2011, here is a brief overview. Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb in the center of Oslo, directly between the Oil and Energy Department of the government and the Finance Ministry across the street. The explosion killed eight people and injured hundreds more as a result of the shattered glass and small fires filling the area. The bomb reportedly carried 950kg of explosives.
After this incident in Oslo, Breivik made his way to Utoeya Island, located 20 miles north-west of the capital city. The island was hosting a Labor Party camp, making both of his attacks politically motivated. Breivik dressed up as a police officer and demanded that the ferryman take him across. At the island Breivik opened fire on every individual he could find, and once word had spread around the island of a murderer, he used his disguise as a policeman to lure wary individuals out by promising safety. On the island he killed 69 people. The average age of his victims was 18.
In an average court case, when there is doubt about the mental stability of the defendant, they chose to plead insanity in order to be placed in a mental institution rather than a prison. However, we see the opposite case in Anders Breivik. For him, being found insane would be the ‘worst possible outcome,’ because it would mean that his views and his Islamophobic ideology would be ignored as the ramblings of a mad-man. Above all, Breivik wanted to send a message to the government, stating that the ‘Labor Party has failed the country and the people… the price of their treason is what they had to pay.’
Although Breivik’s entire rampage was carried out in a meticulous manner, with planning going back at least to 2005 and maybe even earlier than that, there are certain signs that attribute his actions to that of a mentally ill man. According to some friends, Breivik was a perfectly affable young boy when he was in junior high school. He had no signs of the racism he would develop in his twenties and thirties. In fact, some even claim he had a Middle Eastern workout friend in his youth, with whom he was good friends throughout his educational career. However, this all changed after his adolescence. He began what ended up being a 1,500 page manifesto about his views against Islam, and posted a 12 minute video along the same topic.
The case of Anders Breivik is a particularly gruesome one in the current affairs of the European continent. Although he took the most extreme measures against what he thought was an invasion from the Eastern world, a mild form of his sentiment exists almost everywhere, evident in the anti-immigration policies being adopted by countries like France and Spain. Unless these views are given a forum in which they can be heard, it is quite possible that more extremists like Breivik will terrorize Europe.
For more information:
Anders Behring Breivik: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Behring_Breivik
Daily report on the trial: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17770991