OSLO – (AFP) – The 32-year-old Norwegian suspected of killing as many as 93 people in a bombing and shooting rampage arrived Monday early afternoon in a closed Oslo courtroom for his first remand hearing.
Anders Behring Breivik entered the hearing, state news agency NTB said, after being driven in through the basement of the downtown Oslo courthouse, a security official also said.
Norway gunman in closed court hearing as nation falls silent
Norway fell silent on Monday for the victims of a bombing and shooting spree as the man accused of carrying out the killings was to appear at a closed hearing before a court in Oslo.
As the nation struggled to absorb the impact of its worst postwar tragedy, thousands of people bowed their heads in silence outside Oslo’s main university at a ceremony led by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and King Harald V.
“To remember the victims who died at the government’s headquarters and on the island of Utoeya, I declare a minute of silence,” said Stoltenberg on the stroke of midday before he then opened a book of condolence.
The country’s train stations closed and the stock market halted trading. Nordic neighbours Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland also held a minute’s silence and flew national flags at half-mast.
“It was an attack against the very values that our countries are built upon. It was an attack against all of us,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.
Anders Behring Breivik has already confessed to the killings but denied criminal responsibility, according to his lawyer.
The 32-year-old was to make his first appearance in a downtown court around 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), for arraignment over Friday’s car bombing and mass shooting that he said he had planned over a long time and executed single-handedly.
A court official said that the judge had ordered the hearing to take place behind closed doors, against Behring Breivik’s wishes.
“The meeting will be closed to the public and the press,” the official said.
Behring Breivik’s lawyer Geir Lippestad said earlier that his client had two wishes: “The first is that the hearing is public, and the second is that he may attend in uniform.”
A statement from the court indicated that the prosecutor, Christian Hatlo, would demand a doubling of the normal maximum four-week custody period.
“The prosecutor will ask for eight weeks of custody for Anders Behring Breivik,” the court said in a statement.
Before the attack, Behring Breivik wrote a 1,500-page manifesto, datelined London. He boasted he was one of up to 80 “solo martyr cells” recruited across Western Europe to topple governments tolerant of Islam, it said, adding that Scotland Yard was now trying to establish if he had recently visited London.
At least seven people died in an initial car bombing outside the prime minister’s office, in a calculated distraction for police allowing Behring Breivik to shoot scores of youngsters attending a summer camp on the island of Utoeya, 40 kilometres away (25 miles).
The official toll from the island currently stands at 86 although police have said the figure could be revised downwards.
Names and photographs are to be released shortly of those who died, including offspring of senior ruling party figures.
An emotional Stoltenberg said the full extent of the “evil” perpetrated last Friday would emerge when the victims’ names and their photographs are released.
Stoltenberg addressed a solemn memorial service attended by Norway’s royal family and thousands of worshippers on Sunday.
The premier has said he knew personally many of the dead while the tragedy also struck right at the heart of Norway’s royal family. It emerged Monday that the half-brother of Norway’s Princess Mette-Marit — an off duty policeman — was one of the victims of the gun attack.
Behring Breivik currently has only the status of “official suspect,” meaning he will not learn actual charges until the investigation is concluded with police still hunting for possible accomplices.
But the attacks have triggered calls for Norway to reinstate the death penalty. The maximum prison sentence in Norway is 21 years, meaning — if found guilty — the accused could be awarded just 82 days per killing.
Behring Breivik acknowledged in his tract that he would be deemed a “monster,” but said it was designed to end a centuries-long Muslim colonisation of Europe.
Although he told investigators he acted alone, prosecutors stressed they had yet to uncover a motive — despite the manifesto claims.
Part diary, bomb-making manual and Islamophobic rant, the tract details the self-styled Knight Templar’s “martyrdom operation” including a call for believers to spawn as many children as possible in order to generate a pool of future fighters in a Christian war he likens to a medieval crusade.
During weekend interrogation, Behring Breivik told police that Europe’s deadliest attacks since the 2004 Madrid bombings, carried out by the Al-Qaeda terror network, were “cruel” but “necessary.”
Nevertheless, lawyer Lippestad said his client felt he had done “nothing reprehensible.”
Police have faced loud criticism over the hour it took them to reach the island, during which victims — some shot again in the head to make sure they were dead, according to witnesses — died at a rate of more than one per minute.