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Norway Massacre: What’s Ahead for Admitted Mass Killer Breivik?

April 17, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
On trial for allegedly killing 77 people in last year's massacre in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik concluded a day of chilling testimony by telling the court "I would have done it again." Margaret Warner discusses the unique trial with Anders Tvegard, the U.S. correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.
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GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner takes the story from there.

MARGARET WARNER: Breivik capped off a day of chilling testimony by telling the court, “I would have done it again.”

For more on the trial and the tragedy for Norway, we go to Anders Tvegard, the U.S. correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr. Tvegard, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

First of all, here you have a defendant who has admitted what he did and has said it was justified. So what is it exactly that this five-judge panel that’s ruling on this case, hearing and ruling on the case, is to decide?

ANDERS TVEGARD, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation: The killer, he claims self-defense. He says he would have done this again if he had the chance. He shows no remorse. The question here is that — whether he should be judged sane or insane. That’s one of the biggest questions of this trial.

MARGARET WARNER: So those psychiatrists that are in the courtroom are there to advise the judges on this?

ANDERS TVEGARD: Well, they have already made a report — actually, two reports. And one concluded that he is insane. The other group concluded that he is sane, but he has serious mental disturbances.

So, now it is up to the court to decide whether he should be judged or not, and meaning that, if he’s insane, then he will be getting psychiatric help, while, if he is sane, he will get criminal — he will be sent to prison, 21 years in prison.

MARGARET WARNER: And I understand that could be extended, because 21 years when he’s only, what, 31 doesn’t seem like very long.

ANDERS TVEGARD: No, he will never get out of prison, no matter what.

MARGARET WARNER: Let’s go back to this sanity-insanity line here.

Usually, in a trial, it’s the defendant and the defendant’s lawyers who are arguing that — want to be found — they want to have the defendant found insane. Here, the situation is this defendant, Breivik, is insisting he be found sane.

Why is that? What’s the strategy there?

ANDERS TVEGARD: He wants to be taken seriously. He believes in what he is doing. It’s not only rhetoric like far-right extreme parties in Europe have. They — he believes that the fight against Muslims is — has already started. He wants to be taken seriously.

If he is found mentally — if he is found insane, then he will not be — well, his so-called followers — he says he has followers — that they will then not believe him that much. So he wants to be judged for his criminal acts, even though he says he did this in self-defense and that he would do it again.

MARGARET WARNER: So, from talking to your friends and colleagues and reading the media back home, what has been the reaction to the onset of this trial?

ANDERS TVEGARD: Norway’s now taken back to those horrible hours and days last summer, July 22 and — July 22. And it’s — the national grief and sorrow is back.

At the same time, people are listening to what he’s saying, like, thinking, how is this possible? Can he really mean that? And to some, it is good to hear that he is a complete lunatic. His views has no resonance in the rest of the public. He does not belong to a political party.

It is not like a 9/11, where you have a big group of believers in Norway or followers to his dream.

MARGARET WARNER: But has concern been expressed that this, even though what he says isn’t televised, that this trial is giving him a platform to air his views?

ANDERS TVEGARD: Yeah, there are no audio or video of his statements. But it will be written out. You can see it on the Internet.

And, also, this trial is broadcasted all over Norway to local courthouses, so that the relatives and the families of the victims can see and hear him if they want to, that it’s a — a closed trial for them. But you can see the details still. But the court doesn’t want to be a platform for his extremist views.

MARGARET WARNER: But, I mean, has there been discussion within Norway that the openness of this trial is giving him that platform?

I think, in his manifesto that he posted online just before doing the deed, he said something like, you’re — urging others to do the same, “Your trial will be your world stage.”

ANDERS TVEGARD: There has been a lot of discussion how to cover this.

And my company, the Norwegian Public Broadcasting, has decided to opt to mute some of the audio. There are gruesome details of what has happened. And it’s too close for us in Norway, while other media, international media, might broadcast more of it. But his statement is not being broadcasted in the video or audio at all, only like the written reference, which some media, they do refer, because what he’s saying is, people really wanted to hear what is going on in his mind.

And, to them, it’s comforting to see that he is a maniac.

MARGARET WARNER: Well, Anders Tvegard, thank you very much for joining us.