The suspect in the bombing and mass shooting that killed 76 people in Norway sees himself as "some kind of savior" and is likely insane, his attorney says, though the lawyer said he did not know whether he would use an insanity defense.
The suspect in the bombing and mass shooting that killed 76 people in Norway sees himself as “some kind of savior” and is likely insane, his attorney says, though the lawyer said he did not know whether he would use an insanity defense.
Geir Lippestad told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that his client, Anders Behring Breivik, is unaware of the impact of the attacks and asked him how many people he had killed. Lippestad said he did not answer the question.
In an exclusive AP interview, Breivik’s former stepmother said she had never seen any violent or anti-Muslim behavior from him, even in recent months. Tove Oevermo told The Associated Press that Breivik often talked about a book he had quit working to write – without revealing that it was a 1,500-page anti-immigrant manifesto justifying Friday’s attacks.
Breivik, 32, has confessed to last week’s bombing at government headquarters in Oslo and a shooting rampage at an island youth camp, but has pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges he faces. Breivik, who made his first court appearance Monday, claims he acted to save Europe from what he says is Muslim colonization.
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“His reason (for the attacks) is that he wants to start a war against democracy, against the Muslims in the world, and as he said he wants to liberate Europe and the Western world,” said Lippestad.
Asked how his client sees himself, he said: “As a savior. Some kind of savior.”
Lippestad said his client, who claims he is part of an organization with several cells in Western countries, appears unaware of the effects of his crime.
“He asked me if I was shocked and if I could explain to him what happened,” Lippestad said. “He didn’t know if he had succeeded with his plan.”
But Lippestad said in an earlier news conference that his client felt the “operation” was going ahead as planned and had assumed he would be taken down by police sooner than he was. About 90 minutes into his rampage, a SWAT team reached him and he surrendered.
Lippestad said Breivik took drugs “to be strong, to be efficient, to keep him awake” during the attack at the camp.
Two psychiatric experts will evaluate Breivik to determine whether he is mentally ill, said Lippestad, adding that it’s too early to say whether that will be his defense.
“This whole case has indicated that he’s insane,” he told reporters.
Oevermo, who kept in occasional touch with Breivik despite divorcing his father when Breivik was a teenager, said he was “just an ordinary Norwegian, a well-behaved boy.”
“You can’t put all of this together really. I saw no sign of him being a person like he must have been,” Oevermo said. “It’s really such a shock.”
Oevermo, a retired career diplomat, married Jens Breivik when Anders was 4. Anders Breivik lived with his mother but would often visit Oevermo and his father in France.
Oevermo said she last saw Breivik in March or April of this year, when he visited her at her home south of Oslo. She said he didn’t seem agitated during the visit and behaved normally.
He left saying, “‘See you again soon,’ or something like that, something very normal,” she said.
Breivik would often speak of a book he was writing, Oevermo said. He was proud of the book, but was evasive about its contents, she said.
“He just told me he was trying to publish a book. He didn’t say what about. He said, ‘You’ll see when it’s finished,'” she said. “He didn’t really want to get into it, but he was proud of it.”
In recent years, he was working on the book full-time and not working. Before that Oevermo said he worked odd jobs and tried to establish various companies.
Breivik released his manifesto shortly before the deadly attacks. In the sprawling document, he details his hatred for the “cultural Marxists” who have allowed Muslims to immigrate to Europe. He claims his attack is part of a coordinated effort by a group calling itself the Knights Templar to rid Europe of Muslims and left-wing politics. Police officials say they’re not sure whether such a group exists.
Oevermo said Breivik spoke to her about politics “like every normal person does, not more than that. He never touched Islam and this hatred he must have had for it.”
She said the Breivik she knew was “quite informed and well spoken.”
“People say, ‘I’m shocked.’ They don’t know what shock is all about, physically and psychologically. It was so unreal. I couldn’t believe it. I refused to believe it,” she said. “If I’d had some kind of suspicion – some kind of idea that something was not right with him, it would have been easier, I think.”
Eight people were killed in Friday’s bombing outside the building that houses the prime minister’s office. Later that day, 68 people were killed at an island retreat for the youth wing of the ruling Labor Party.
Though Breivik has been charged with acts of terrorism, Lippestad told the AP he could also be charged with crimes against humanity. He said his client would never be set free.
While 21 years is the stiffest sentence a Norwegian judge can hand down, a special sentence can be given to prisoners deemed a danger to society, who are locked up for 20-year sentences that can be renewed indefinitely.
Lippestad said he did not know why Breivik chose him to represent him. He once worked in the same building as Breivik and Norwegian media have reported that he has defended neo-Nazis.
“My first reaction was of course that this is too difficult, but when I sat down with my family and friends and colleagues, we talked it through and we said that today it’s time to think about democracy,” Lippestad said. “Someone has to do this job.”
Lippestad is a member of the Labor Party, which Breivik rails against in his manifesto, accusing liberals of being ashamed of their culture and betraying Norway in their pursuit of a multicultural society. The lawyer said he didn’t know whether his client is aware of his party affiliation.
Asked at a press conference if Breivik was giving him instructions for his defense, Lippestad said he wasn’t and that he wouldn’t take such instructions.
Associated Press writer Bjoern H. Amland contributed to this report.