Anders Behring Breivik wants to tell Norway and the World why he killed at least 93 people in a bomb attack and shooting rampage when he appears in court on Monday, his lawyer said.
Calling himself a crusader against a tide of Islam in a rambling 1,500-page online manifesto, the 32-year-old mass murderer wants the opportunity to explain actions he deemed ‘atrocious, but necessary’.
Lawyer Geir Lippestad said his client had admitted to Friday’s shootings at a Labour youth camp and a bomb that killed seven people in Oslo’s government district, but that he denies any criminal guilt.
“He has been politically active and found out himself that he did not succeed with usual political tools and so resorted to violence,” Lippestad told TV2 news.
“I await a medical assessment of him,” he said.
That Breivik deliberately surrendered to police when finally confronted on the tiny island of Utoeya after cold bloodily gunning down 86 youngsters underlines his desire to grab a public platform to deliver his radical thoughts.
In other instances of gunmen going on killing sprees the perpetrators often commit suicide when the police arrive or actively provoke officers to shoot them dead.
It was not clear how long Breivik will have to talk in court since the hearing will be about custody and he will not be required to enter a guilty or innocent plea.
Police on Monday played down a report in Norwegian media they had already decided to asked for the hearing, in which a judge is set to remand him in custody, to be held behind closed doors.
“It’s up to the judge to decide. It’s not uncommon that the police will ask for it in advance but I don’t know if the police will ask for that,” Liv Corneliussen, a police prosecutor, told Reuters.
The issue could trigger a debate about freedom of expression with many Norwegians opposed to allowing a man who has shaken the nation’s psyche the right to speak out.
“He explains himself fairly calmly, but every now and then expresses emotion,” Lippestad said. “He buries his head in his hands.”
“He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,” he said, adding his client did not feel he deserved punishment.
The worst peacetime massacre in the normally placid country’s modern history appears to have been driven by Breivik’s mission to save Europe from what he sees as the threats of Islam, immigration and multi-culturalism.
Police believe Breivik acted alone after becoming disenchanted with mainstream parties, even those that have gained popularity and parliamentary seats on anti-immigration policies in otherwise liberal and tolerant European countries, including affluent Norway.
The attack was likely to tone down the debate on immigration ahead of September local elections, analysts said, as parties seek to distance themselves from Breivik’s beliefs and reinforce Norwegians’ view of themselves as an open, peaceful people.
Norway’s immigrant numbers nearly tripled between 1995 and 2010 to almost half a million in a population of 4.8 million.
The sense that many were drawn by Norway’s generous welfare handouts helped spur the growth of the Progress Party which became Norway’s second biggest in parliament after the 2009 election on a largely anti-immigration platform.
Breivik was once a member of the party, but left complaining it was too politically correct. It was then he began scheming to “resist”, burying ammunition more than a year ago, weight-lifting, storing up credit cards and researching bomb-making while playing online war games.
After three months of laboriously pounding and mixing fertilizer, aspirin and other chemicals on a remote farm, Breivik drove a hire car packed with the results to the centre of Oslo on Friday, triggering the device outside government offices, killing seven and shattering windows for blocks around.
He then drove to the small island of Utoeya, 45 km (28 miles) away, and dressed as a police officer shot dead 86 people there on a youth summer camp for the ruling Labour Party as teenagers made desperate attempts to hide in the woods, under beds or leapt into the water and tried to swim the mainland.