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Norway gunman found insane by psychiatric evaluators

The finding could mean that Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people, could get psychiatric treatment instead of prison.

November 29, 2011|By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
  • Anders Behring Breivik, left, leaves an Oslo courthouse in July. The right-wing extremist's bombing and shooting attacks last summer killed 77 people.
Anders Behring Breivik, left, leaves an Oslo courthouse in July. The right-wing… (Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen,…)

Reporting from London — A psychiatric evaluation has found that Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in Norway in July, was clinically insane at the time of the attacks, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The finding could pave the way for psychiatric treatment instead of a prison sentence for the right-wing, anti-Muslim militant, according to Norwegian law.

After hours of interviews with Breivik, two forensic psychiatrists concluded that he was a paranoid schizophrenic who operated in his own "delusional universe," prosecutor Svein Holden told reporters in Oslo, the capital.

PHOTOS: Norway attacks

That universe is one in which, as a self-styled Christian "Knight Templar," he felt it his duty to use extreme violence to stamp out multiculturalism and launch a new crusade against Muslims in Europe.

On July 22, Breivik detonated a massive car bomb outside government offices in Oslo and then went on a shooting rampage on a nearby island. Witnesses say he methodically hunted down dozens of young people and shot them before surrendering without resistance when police arrived.

The victims were attending an annual gathering sponsored by Norway's ruling Labor Party, which Breivik considered soft on immigration.

It was the Scandinavian nation's worst-ever peacetime massacre.

In a manifesto hundreds of pages long that he posted on the Internet, Breivik said his goal was to spark a revolution to reclaim Europe for Christianity and purge the continent of Muslims. He accused "indigenous Europeans" of committing "cultural suicide" by allowing Muslims to settle in Christian lands.

The manifesto advocates acts of terrorism to shock Europeans out of their stupor. Breivik has admitted to the twin attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utoya, but insists the bloodshed was justified and denies criminal culpability.

If the court accepts the conclusion that Breivik was deranged when he carried out the attacks, then his trial would be suspended and he would be transferred from jail to a mental hospital, Norwegian media reported. He could then spend the rest of his life in psychiatric care, his freedom curtailed but not because of a prison sentence.

PHOTOS: Norway attacks

henry.chu@latimes.com

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