Norway divided after mass killer declared insane

Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:13pm GMT

By Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty

OSLO (Reuters) - A report declaring mass killer Anders Behring Breivik insane, meaning he will most likely end up in a psychiatric institution rather than jail, has divided Norwegians who are still traumatised by the July massacre.

From disbelief and anger to acceptance that this may be the best way forward, Norwegians reacted strongly to the conclusions of a mental health assessment released Tuesday about the man who committed the country's worst ever attacks since World War Two.

Breivik killed 77 people on July 22 when he planted a car bomb that killed eight people at an Oslo government building, then went on to shoot dead 69 more, most of them teenagers, at an island summer camp of the ruling Labor Party's youth wing.

If the court accepts the report's conclusions, Breivik would be held in a mental health institution rather than in a prison. Norwegian courts can challenge psychiatric evaluations or order new tests but rarely reject them.

Astri Krukhaug and Liv Svaba, two pensioners from southern Norway, said they were relieved that the report declared Breivik unfit to be tried as sane, a conclusion the killer himself described as "insulting."

"It was a relief. You don't want to be tried in the same court as him. That would soil the whole system, and would be against my sense of justice," said Svaba in an Oslo street, as Krukhaug nodded in agreement.

"Had he been declared sane, he would have counted as one of us, he would have been like you or me. But he is against everything we stand for," she told Reuters.

The women's opinions were shared by 36 percent of Norwegians according to a poll conducted for the Norwegian broadcaster NRK.   Continued...

File picture shows Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik (L), the man accused of a killing spree and bomb attack in Norway, as he sits in the rear of a vehicle while transported in a police convoy as he is leaving the courthouse in Oslo July 25, 2011. MANDATORY CREDIT.  REUTERS/Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Aftenposten via Scanpix
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