By Pierre-Henry Deshayes (AFP) – Apr 10, 2012
OSLO — The Norwegian extremist who admits to killing 77 people in twin attacks last year was sane at the time and wishes he had gone further, state experts and his lawyer said Tuesday.
The latest psychiatric probe contradicted an initial expert exam that found Anders Behring Breivik criminally insane.
Six days before the opening of his trial in Oslo, the new assessment reopened the debate on whether the 33-year-old right-wing extremist should be jailed or treated at a secure psychiatric unit.
On July 22, Breivik first set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people.
He then travelled to the small island of Utoeya northwest of the capital where, dressed as a police officer, he then spent more than an hour methodically shooting and killing another 69 people.
Most of the victims on Utoeya were teenagers attending a summer camp hosted by the ruling Labour Party's youth organisation.
"We have concluded that the accused was not psychotic at the time of the crime," psychiatrist Agnar Aspaas told reporters after he and his colleague Terje Toerrissen handed over their report to the Oslo district court.
The new evaluation counters the findings of the initial probe that found the Breivik was suffering from "paranoid schizophrenia," which meant he would most likely be sentenced to psychiatric care instead of prison.
That report sparked outcry in Norway, prompting the court to order the second evaluation.
Both results are just advisory, and it will be up to the judges to determine Breivik's mental state and where he should be jailed when they issue their verdict around mid-July.
Either way, Breivik could remain locked up for the rest of his life.
Ironically, the new expert conclusion was welcomed by his defence, which upon his request aims to prove he is sane and criminally responsible.
Breivik, who has said being sent to a psychiatric ward would be "worse than death", wants to be declared sane, according to his lawyers, so as not to damage the political ideology -- a crusade against multi-culturalism and the "Muslim invasion" of Europe -- presented in his 1,500-page manifesto published online shortly before the attacks.
"His first reaction was that he was pleased with the conclusion" of the new expert report, Lippestad told reporters.
Lippestad cautioned that the trial "will be extremely difficult, an enormous challenge to listen to his explanations."
"He will not only defend (his actions) but will also lament, I think, not going further," he said.
According to the new evaluation, "there is a high risk of repeated violent actions," said a statement from the Oslo court summarising the new findings of experts Aspaas and Toerrissen.
"We are as sure (of our conclusion) as it is possible to be," Toerrissen told reporters, stressing that he and Aspaas had had "as much, if not more material" as their colleagues who had reached the opposite conclusion about Breivik's mental state.
Their 310-page report is based on 11 interviews with the accused, three weeks of permanent observation and the police interrogation transcripts.
The prosecution meanwhile said last month it was conditionally ready to accept the conclusions of the first psychiatric exam -- that Breivik was not criminally responsible for his actions and could therefore be sentenced to psychiatric care, but it kept open the possibility to change that view if new evidence emerged.
On Tuesday, the two prosecutors in charge of the case, Inga Bejer Engh and Svein Holden, refused "to speculate at this stage about the sentence we will ask the court to hand down."
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