The online news portal of TV5
OSLO - The Norwegian far-right gunman who massacred 77 people last summer gave a clenched-fist salute, smirked at the court and pleaded not guilty on the first day of a trial that threatens to turn into a "circus" showcasing his anti-Islamic views.
Anders Behring Breivik, 33, has said he acted in defense of his country by setting off a car bomb that killed eight people at government headquarters in Oslo last July, then killing another 69 people in a shooting spree at a youth summer camp organized by the ruling Labour Party.
The trial will turn on whether Breivik is found guilty or insane. While he risks being kept behind bars for the rest of his life, the high school dropout has said being labeled insane would be a "fate worse than death".
Listening impassively for hours as prosecutors read out an indictment detailing how he massacred teenagers trapped on a island resort outside Oslo, he only shed tears when the court later showed one of his propaganda videos.
Wearing a suit and loosely knotted tie, Breivik entered the Oslo court in handcuffs. He smirked several times as the cuffs were removed, put his right fist on his heart then extended his hand in salute.
Occasionally suppressing a yawn, cracking his knuckles and sipping water, he stared down at the indictment papers, following without visible emotion the list of his killings as the prosecutor read out each one. Some details were so graphic that Norwegian television bleeped out descriptions of the massacres.
Breivik shot most of his victims several times, often using the first shot to take down his target then following up with a shot to the head. His youngest victim was 14. He later surrendered as "commander of the Norwegian resistance movement".
"There's shooting all the time, I've seen many injured. He's inside!" Renate Taarnes screamed, as 13 people in the cafe were shot dead. "He's coming ... he's coming," she said as shots could be heard in the background.
"I think he feels sorry for himself," said Mette Yvonne Larsen, one of the lawyers representing victims. "His project didn't work out, that's why he's crying. He's not crying for the victims ... he's crying over his extremely childish film."
The "lone wolf" killer intends to say he was defending Norway against multiculturalism and Islam. He says his attacks were intended to punish "traitors" whose pro-immigration policies were adulterating Norwegian blood.
Some Norwegians fear Breivik will succeed in turning the trial, with about 800 journalists on hand, into a platform for his anti-immigrant ideas. One Norwegian newspaper offered online readers a way to remove all Breivik-related stories.
His proposed witnesses include Mullah Krekar, the Kurdish founder of Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, who was recently jailed in Norway for making death threats, and "Fjordman", a right-wing blogger who influenced Breivik. Breivik is scheduled to testify for about a week, starting on Tuesday.
Last July 22, he set off the bomb in the center of Oslo before heading to the youth camp on Utoeya, an island in a lake 40 km (25 miles) outside the capital, gunning down his victims while police took more than an hour to get to the massacre site in the chaos that followed the bomb blast.
Prosecutors painted an image of a Breivik obsessed with the "World of Warcraft" computer game, prompting the judge to ask whether the game was violent. Breivik broke into a smile when the image of his online character was displayed.
"Your arrest will mark the initiation of the propaganda phase," Breivik wrote in a manual for future attackers, part of a 1,500-page manifesto he posted online. "Your trial offers you a stage to the world."
In a recent letter seen by the Norwegian newspaper VG, Breivik said: "The court case looks like it will be a circus ... it is an absolutely unique opportunity to explain the idea of (the manifesto) to the world."
An initial psychiatric evaluation concluded that Breivik was criminally insane while a second, completed in the past week, found no evidence of psychosis. Resolving this conflict could be the five-judge panel's major decision.
If found guilty and sane, Breivik faces a maximum 21-year sentence but could be held indefinitely if he is considered a continuing danger. If declared insane, he would be held in a psychiatric institution indefinitely with periodic reviews. (Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty and Terje Solsvik)