Prosecutors in Norway call for Breivik insanity verdict

Prosecutor Svein Holden: "We are not convinced that Breivik is legally insane but we are in doubt"

Prosecutors in Norway have called for self-confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik to be considered insane in their closing argument at his trial.

Prosecutor Svein Holden said there were still doubts about his insanity but he should be placed in psychiatric care, not sent to prison.

Judges in the trial in Oslo are due to deliver their verdict in the trial in July or August.

Breivik killed 77 people and injured 242 on 22 July of last year.

He bombed government buildings in Oslo before shooting young Labour Party supporters at an island camp.

Breivik, who insists he is sane, sought to justify his attacks by saying they were necessary to stop the "Islamisation" of Norway.

The defence concludes on Friday.

'Killing machine'

"We are not convinced or certain that Breivik is legally insane but we are in doubt," said Svein Holden.

Analysis

Since the question of guilt is not an issue in this case, Breivik's sanity has from the outset been the central question the court must answer. Now that the prosecution has asked the court to commit him to psychiatric care, many commentators here say it would be unusual for the judges to go the opposite way: to rule him sane and accountable and send him to prison.

A string of forensic and prison psychiatrists have told this court they think Breivik is not psychotic and therefore accountable. Only two people - the authors of the first psychiatric assessment - have argued in court that he was psychotic at the time of his crimes.

Yet the prosecution argued this presented reasonable doubt which should "benefit" the defendant. The fact that Breivik himself has called psychiatric care "a fate worse than death" is not something the prosecution or the court can take into account.

"So we request that he is transferred to compulsory psychiatric care."

Mr Holden said it was worse to sentence a psychotic person to prison than to place a non-psychotic person in psychiatric care.

Earlier on Thursday, another prosecutor, Inga Bejer Engh, told the court it had always been the prosecution's clear view that the case should be treated like any other criminal case.

"We must also accept this court will never find all the answers to our questions," she added.

"How did he become this killing machine? How many did he try to kill on that day?"

Without a hint of regret, she said, Breivik had told the court how he had reloaded his gun while victims sat waiting for him to kill them on the island of Utoeya.

Thursday's recommendation by the prosecution upholds its call at the start of the trial in March for Breivik to be committed to psychiatric care.

Before the trial, psychiatrists commissioned by the court had found Breivik insane, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and therefore not responsible for his actions.

This caused an uproar in Norway. The court then ordered a second opinion which found Breivik sane, as did a number of other psychiatrists who had observed him in detention and in court

Fist salute

Breivik could be seen smiling at times as he listened to the prosecutor, and shaking his head while Mr Holden summed up.

22 July attacks

Victims of the 22 July attacks in Norway
  • 8 people killed and 209 injured by bomb in Oslo
  • 69 people killed on Utoeya island, of them 34 aged between 14 and 17
  • 33 injured on Utoeya
  • Nearly 900 people affected by attacks

Breivik gave a clenched-fist salute with his right arm before being led out of the courtroom.

Breivik's lawyers are likely to reject the insanity finding when they sum up on Friday, the last scheduled day of the 10-week trial.

There was disappointment among some of those injured or bereaved by Breivik, who would face a maximum prison sentence of 21 years if found sane and convicted of murder.

"They say they want this to be a correct judgment," said Mette Yvonne Larsen, a lawyer for the bereaved.

"They think that imprisonment would be a more justified outcome of what happened on 22 July," she was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

In her remarks to the court, Ms Engh pointed out that commitment to psychiatric care would mean Breivik being confined for a long time, maybe for the rest of his life.

"We have murderers who have been sentenced to psychiatric care who will probably never get out again," she said.

More on This Story

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

  • Mother and childConstant fear

    Saving lives on the front line in the battle with Ebola


  • Dog's headCanine quirk

    The dogs that used to collect money on Britain's railways


  • Hazal Naz BesleyiciHa, ha, ha

    Why are women in Turkey posting laughing selfies?


  • Robert Graves' PoetryUnforgettable war Watch

    The writer who had a lump of granite stuck in his head


  • Hands of clergy in prayer'Two per cent'

    How many men are paedophiles - and is the same true of priests?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.