Breivik trial: Wounded tell of Utoeya escape

Silja Kristianne Uteng Silja Kristianne Uteng managed to swim 600m through cold waters to the mainland

Witnesses who were shot and wounded by Anders Behring Breivik on Utoeya island have told of their extraordinary escapes at his trial in Oslo.

One witness who fled by swimming said she thought she was going to die, but preferred to drown than be shot.

Another described pulling a bullet from her thigh before swimming for safety.

Breivik, 33, admits killing 69 people at the youth camp on Utoeya and eight people in a Oslo bomb attack last July. He denies criminal responsibility.

Fighting back tears as she recounted her ordeal on Utoeya, Silja Kristianne Uteng, 21, told the court she fled across the camp site into the lake and "swam for her life" along with several others, but saw the killer appear at the shore.

"I thought that now I will die," she said. "I thought that I would rather drown than be shot." She managed to swim the 600m through cold waters to the mainland.

Start Quote

Lars Groennestad

I've now done my duty, I've testified, I've done what I can do to get him in jail”

End Quote Lars Groennestad

Ms Uteng said she only realised she had been shot in the arm when she took off her jacket and saw blood and a bullet hole.

Punctured lung

Another survivor, Lars Groennestad, 20, said Breivik had shot him in the shoulder, narrowly missing his spine but puncturing his lung.

He said he had run to hide under trees, covering himself in soil to reduce the likelihood of being spotted, and waited until police came to help him.

A third witness, Frida Holm Skoglund, 20, asked for Breivik to be removed from court, as she was too nervous to testify before the man who tried to kill her.

She recounted how she fled into woods and removed a bullet from her thigh, after at first not believing it when a friend pointed out that she had been shot.

"I thought it was nonsense, that it was not a real bullet. But I felt something sharp in my thigh, and it was the bullet," she told the court. "So I took it out and I threw it away from me. But it did not hurt."

Analysis

Anders Breivik has been confronted with the first of those he shot and wounded but who survived at Utoeya.

One very slight, and in her own words very nervous, young girl asked to have him removed from court before she took to the witness stand.

Frida Holm Skoglund felt she could not give testimony while the man who tried to kill her less than a year ago sat only a few metres away.

Her small voice and slight build was an enormous contrast to her story of survival. She told the court how she had managed to remove the bullet from her wound herself before taking to the icy waters and swimming until an asthma attack almost made her go underwater.

Speaking in court today, she had one message for the killer: "We won, he lost. Norwegian youths can swim."

Asked about Breivik's demeanour during his shooting spree, she said he seemed calm, but "aggressive on the trigger".

She then told how she and several friends went into the water and swam for their lives. She said she had been the leader of a group from her part of Norway and the three youngest had all been killed.

Despite her loss, when asked whether she had a short message for their killer, Ms Skoglund said: "We won, he lost!"

Monday's fourth witness, Ane Kollen Evenmo, 17, said she was trying to flee in a boat with several others when she saw Breivik, wearing a police uniform, on the shore of Utoeya.

Thinking Breivik was a police officer, she waved to him for help, but realised her mistake when he began shooting at the boat, she said.

Breivik claims to have been defending Norway from immigration and says he attacked the Labour Party youth event on the island of Utoeya because of the party's support for multiculturalism.

Last week, the court heard from survivors who escaped unhurt, as well as the last of evidence from coroners who carried out post mortem examinations on Breivik's victims.

The trial's outcome hinges on whether the court finds Breivik to have been sane. If it does, he could face 21 years in prison, if not, he is likely to be held indefinitely in a psychiatric institution.

Breivik seeks to prove his sanity, as he wants to demonstrate that he acted out of ideological motivations.

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