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Oslo custody hearing

July 25, 2011

Norwegians observed a minute's silence Monday to mark the mass murder that struck the country on Friday. Police have revised the total number of dead to 76, down from 93 as initially reported.

Anders Behring Breivik
Breivik wrote that the attack would be 'awesome'Image: AP

The 32-year-old man suspected of committing Friday's bombing and shooting in Norway appeared at an initial court hearing on Monday.

Anders Behring Breivik will be remanded in custody for eight weeks. For the first four weeks, he will be held in isolation with no contact to other people, mail services, or sources of media.

Monday's hearing was held behind closed doors. Afterward, Judge Kim Heger addressed reporters and read out the court's decision, including a few statements from the hearing made by Breivik.

Heger, speaking through an interpreter, said Breivik had "acknowledged the bomb explosion in the government quarter and the shooting at Utoeya." However, this was not an admission of guilt, as "the accused believed [he] needed to carry out these acts to save Norway and Western Europe" from, among other things, Marxism and Islam.

Part of the motive, according to Heger's account of Breivik's statements in the hearing, appeared to be a desire to send a strong message to Norway's Labor party regarding its immigrant policy. The youth camp where the shooting took place is affiliated with the Labor party.

Breivik has said he acted alone, but according to his statements on Monday, he claimed that there were "two more cells in our organization," which Heger said required more investigation.

Police have not ruled out that Breivik may have had help. They also said during a press conference Monday that Breivik stated during interrogation that he planned on spending the rest of his life in prison.

Flowers and candles laid at a campsite overlooking the island of Utoeya, plus a stone with "In memory of the victims" engraved upon it
Tributes had already poured in prior to the minute's silenceImage: dapd

Gaining a political platform

The bombing in the government quarter of the capital, Oslo, preceded a shooting rampage - with Breivik disguised as a policeman - on the island of Utoeya, roughly 45 kilometers (28 miles) away.

Breivik surrendered to police when they arrived on the island roughly an hour after the attack began.

Police originally said at least 93 people were killed in the twin attacks, but revised that number to 76 on Monday during a press conference. Although another person is now being counted among the dead from the bombing (for a total of eight), they reduced the death toll from Utoeya. Norway held a minute's silence at noon local time (1000 GMT) in the victims' honor.

Breivik had hoped to use the court appearance as an opportunity to propound his anti-immigration and anti-Islam viewpoints. He wrote in his English-language online manifesto, published shortly before the attacks, that if he survived his assault and was arrested, this would "mark the initiation of a propaganda phase."

"He has been politically active and found out himself that he did not succeed with usual political tools, and so he resorted to violence," said Breivik's lawyer, Geir Lippestad told Norway's TV2 news. "I await a medical assessment of him."

Police believe Breivik decided to pursue violent means after losing faith in mainstream political parties, even populist far-right ones.

Life sentence a possibility, even in Norway

This image shows Anders Behring Breivik from a manifesto attributed to him that was discovered Saturday, July 23, 2011.
Breivik, published several photos of himself in costumeImage: AP

Breivik's self-stated desire to use his trial as the chance to expound his far-right opinions under a global spotlight has outraged many people in Norway, a country that ordinarily does its utmost to protect free speech.

"He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary," Breivik's lawyer said. "He wished to attack society and the structure of society."

Norway's maximum permissible jail sentence normally spans 21 years, however there is a provision that permits for this to be extended if prosecutors can demonstrate a risk of repeat offenses.

At least 100,000 people rallied in Oslo in a show of grief and unity over the attacks, many holding flowers aloft in the air in memory of the victims.

A singer sang the Norwegian anti-Nazi hymn "For Youth" at the end of a short commemorative concert. "Tonight the streets are filled with love," Crown Prince Haakon told a large crowd gathered on the banks of the Norwegian capital's fjord.

Tens of thousands more people marched in other cities across the country.

Author: Matt Zuvela, Mark Hallam (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Andrew Bowen