Breivik is charged for terrorist attacks and pre-meditated murder after planting a car bomb outside the government’s main office buildings in Oslo and going on a shooting spree at the ruling Labor party’s summer youth camp on the nearby island of Utøya.
His testimony over the next five days is expected to be central in this historic trial, which is now focused on Breivik’s sanity after two conflicting forensic reports.
The first report in November concluded the 33-year old was paranoid schizophrenic, and hence criminally not punishable for his actions. The second set of psychiatrists announced last week they found Brevik sane, which makes prison time possible for Norway’s most notorious killer in modern times.
The prosecutors’ indictment – issued in March, when only the report finding Breivik insane was out – recommends he be transferred to compulsory mental care for having committed the acts in a psychotic state. However, it allows for changing to a 21 years’ sentence of imprisonment or preventive detention during the course of the trial if they feel the evidence instead shows him to be sane.
Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s defense attorney, said yesterday in a press conference that his client’s testimony over the next days would be the most important piece of evidence presented to the court in determining his client’s sanity. Mr. Lippestad said last week that his client felt it was important to be considered sane so that his ideology would "stand stronger."
The trial began today with Breivik flashing a clenched-fist salute. Shortly thereafter, Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen recommending that Thomas Indrebø, one of the three lay judges in this case, withdraw immediately from the case for having posted on Facebook, “The death penalty is the only just thing to do in this case!” on the day after the attack. In Norwegian courts, two professional judges and three lay judges – in this case ordinary Oslo residents – determine a judgement in the case.