Families of Victims Stage Walkout in Breivik Trial

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Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI, and WGBH Boston. It's up to the jury now. The ten week trial of Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik came to a close today in Oslo. Breivik admits murdering 77 people, many of them teenagers, in a bombing and shooting rampage last July. The question for the jury is whether he's insane or not. Prosecutors say yes; Breivik's lawyers argues he's not. The BBC's Lars Bevanger was in the courtroom today and joins us now. Lars, why does Breivik want to go to prison and not to a psychiatric ward?

Lars Bevanger: Well, he has said that the entire reason for carrying out his attacks last year was to spread his political message and his political message is an extreme right political ideology in which he envisions the western world and Europe and Norway in particular being overtaken by Islam and multi-culturalism. It's very difficult to get your head around for the normal person if you'd like but he says that if he is found to be insane all his work will be in vain and it will be reduced to the rumblings of a madman and his actions will be the actions of someone who is crazy. Of course, it is difficult for a lot of people to see it as anything but but that is his argument and he has even said that he would appeal any sentence which would find him insane.

Werman: And in court today Breivik apparently read a prepared statement. Was that essentially the thrust of what he was saying?

Bevanger: It was and it became quite bizarre in parts. He was putting out examples of how our culture he says is being threatened by using examples like Sex in the City where promiscuity is an issue he said. And he said that we should be back to the values of the 1950s and the cultural conservatism as he puts it. He sounds a bit rumbling when you are thrown into it but if you read his manifesto and if you listen carefully to what he says there are people out there who share his views. That was the argument very much of the defense. They said he is not alone in saying this. He is alone in acting on it but he is not alone in saying it therefore he is not mad he is basically representing a view which is out there and the only thing that separates him from everyone else thinking this is that he killed 77 people.

Werman: So what was the reaction in the court room to this man who may or may not be insane?

Bevanger: Just before Breivik was due to start his final address in court a large group of survivors and families stood up and walked out. They said that they had heard enough now from the man and they have heard all of the arguments from the defense and the prosecution. They had listened to the forensic psychiatrist at length and they have also heard a lot of harrowing evidence from the survivors of the massacre and the car bomb. They felt that listening more to Breivik now was not necessary and they also obviously wanted to show him that he does no longer matter to them.

Werman: When is a verdict expected, Lars?

Bevanger: The verdict is not expected until the 24th of August. This is because the five judges here will need quite a lot of time to consider all of the material which has been presented throughout these ten weeks. It has been a massive case and a massive evidence load so they will take a good two months to consider the verdict and at the end of that we will know whether Breivik is found to be sane and sent to prison or if he is found to be insane and locked up in a psychiatric institution.

Werman: The BBC's Lars Bevanger in Oslo. Thank you so much.

Bevanger: You're welcome.